Outside the Octagon with The Korean Zombie
By Curt Smith
If you were sitting in a room full of MMA fans and overheard a conversation in regards to Chan Sung Jung, would you know who they were talking about? Chances are, probably not. But that’s okay – I’m here to help. Part of my job at the MMA Takeover is to help fans of the sport better understand who a fighter is – and where they come from. This week, we’ll dive into a South Korean mixed martial artist commonly referred to as ‘The Korean Zombie.’
To begin with, Chan Sung Jung was born in Pohang, South Korea on March 17th, 1987. Pohang is a city inside the North Gyeongsang Province and sits on the western side of South Korea, neighboring the Sea of Japan. As a young boy, his family would move to a small city outside of Seol by the name of Namyangju. It was here that Chan grew up rather poor and because of his weak bodied frame, he was often bullied and beaten up by his classmates while at school. Chan would eventually begin training in Hapkido at the age of 14 due to his Aunt growing tired of watching Chan getting hurt and unable to defend himself. Chan Sung Jung would later begin training in Kickboxing during his senior year of High school, followed by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo.
If you’re wondering what Hapkido is, it’s a combination of Self Defense training that uses joint locks, grappling and throwing techniques that are very similar other forms of Martial Arts. Hapkido also teaches traditional kicks, punches and various other striking techniques.
When Chan Sung Jung turned 18, he made the decision to join a Muay Thai gym that also focused on Boxing. It wouldn’t be until 2007 that he won his first competition in Sambo tournament in South Korea and followed that up by winning the Lightweight division in the Pancrase Korea Neo-Blood tournament. Two years later, Chan would finally enter the world of Mixed Martial Arts. He earned himself a victory in a South Korean based cable television show called ‘Street Fighter‘ and won at 155lbs. From there, Chan dabbled in fighting organizations such as the Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix, DEEP, World Extreme Cage fighting (WEC) and eventually the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Country first, fighting second, right? I don’t think Chan had much of a choice when it was his time to serve the Republic of Korea Armed Forces for two years. His MMA career was basically frozen in place while Chan returned home to fulfill his duties as a soldier. It wasn’t until October of 2016 that he was released from duty – and picking up where he left off. It wouldn’t be long before Chan would receive a call from the UFC about his next fight – Dennis Burmudez on February 4th, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 104.
On April 24th, 2010, Chan made his American and WEC debut, and faced Leonard Garcia in a classic battle. Chan lost a very close decision to Garcia, but the fight was awarded as fight of the year by many MMA outlets, and helped make Chan a fan favorite.
Chan Sung Jung is respected as a dangerous standup striker as well as submission artist. Most notably, Chan is currently tied with Todd Duffee for the fastest knockout in UFC history. 7 Seconds is all it took the Korean Zombie to take out his opponent with a straight right hand at UFC 140. His victim? Mark Hominick.
The more notable notch on Chan’s belt of spectacular finishes has to be his insane Twister crank in his rematch with Garcia during UFC Fight Night live in Seattle. To this day, it’s the only one recorded in the UFC’s history and it would earn him submission of the night bonus and later be named Submission of the year by the World MMA Awards. When Chan was interviewed after the fight, he accredited learning the move from watching Eddie Bravo videos on youtube. Sure.
You can watch the insane move here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxMSsmhFGpM
Starting with the rematch with Garcia, Chan would run off three straight wins in the UFC, and earned himself a title shot against then champion, Jose Aldo Jr. Chan would lose the match to Aldo due to an injury and wouldn’t return to the octagon until Saturday, due to his previously noted military duty.
If any of you are sitting there wondering to yourself, ‘How did Chan Sung Jung earn his Korean Zombie nickname?’ Well, the answer is very simply put. The Korean Zombie has a granite chin and is more than willing to absorb any damage thrown at him. He keeps pressing forward, always coming after his victim. In fact, that’s one of his only flaws when it comes to his fighting style. He solely focuses on his offensive game and pays little to no attention on defense. We’ll see how that works out for the Korean Zombie during his continued career inside of the UFC.