May 16, 2012

The Korean Zombie Apocalypse

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The end of days are nigh, and judgment day has come. It is now the dawn of the Korean Zombie era. UFC on Fuel 3 wrapped up last night and even as a near 3 to 1 underdog, TKZ took victory in a strong candidate for fight of the year. In spite of some issues gassing in the third, Zombie showed a full arsenal of punches, knees, takedowns, positional control, and one slick D'arce choke to end Poirier's night.

Chan Sung Jung has long been a fan favorite since he burst on to the U.S. scene against Leonard Garcia in the WEC that Joe Rogan called, "fight of the century." Having been present at that event, the large Latin American fan base made for a partial crowd to Garcia, but by the end even they could not deny the robbery of that decision showering the arena in boos. Jung was then flat-lined against George Roop and suddenly people weren't sure that Jung would be anything more than a crowd pleasing fighter, whose style would always prevent him from reaching the upper levels of the sport.

But then the UFC merger happened. A twister happened, learned by watching a youtube video of Eddie Bravo. The second fastest KO in UFC history against a former title challenger that had never been stopped by strikes, even against the mighty Jose Aldo, happened. Even then though, many chalked it up to a lucky punch for the massive underdog in the Hominick fight. Forums cried "well Mark doesn't usually come out swinging like that" or "it was a short fight, you can't really tell if someone is any good from that." The choruses echoed across the interwebs. Maybe they were right, even the most ardent TKZ fans were only cautiously optimistic about him as a prospect. Zombie again came in an underdog against Dustin Poirier, a young riser in the division with a well rounded game as well. What followed much like all his previous UFC bouts had been, was a revelation. The first three rounds showed excellent displays of combos, knees, and a uppercut that would wobble Poirier a couple of times. Jung also further provedhis grappling acumen with slick takedowns, reversing a takedown attempt into mount position, and pulling off the fight ending submission. Jung is not yet fluent in English, but he got the crowd roaring with a simple foursome of "I want Jose Aldo."

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So what comes next for the Korean Zombie? Well, nothing short of a title shot against Aldo I say. While Hatsu Hioki has long been held as the #2 featherweight in the world, his own hesitation and not altogether fan friendly fight style have combined to make him a less desirable candidate for the title shot and allowed for Erik Koch to get a much too early fight for the belt. Jung now carries more momentum than any previous challenger Aldo has faced, and in a world of declining ratings and buys, the UFC sure could use an easy sell. Jung's moniker is so well known and recognizable that he in some ways has transcended many fighters at his level. The Korean Zombie t-shirt is one the best  selling and universally
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recognizable shirts in the sport's short history. Add in three exciting and decisive finishes against name opponents, and you have a mma marketer's dream.

Now I know I can be a bit fanboy of TKZ, and I will temper my expectations when he does in fact challenge Jose Aldo, but I will also remember that I didn't expect him to win against Hominick or Poirier either. War Korean Zombie.

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