Almost back to 100 percent, Chan Sung Jung is already eying his potential next challenge.
“The Korean Zombie” has suffered defeats, but perhaps none more difficult to process than his Oct. 17 UFC Fight Night unanimous decision loss to Brian Ortega.
“It was honestly the most mentally challenging fight of my career,” Jung told MMA Junkie on Tuesday, via translator. “Physically, it was also very challenging, and my ego was struck down too. Luckily, I didn’t have any injuries. My two-week quarantine once I returned home to Korea made me very focused on the future.”
Even in defeat, Jung (16-6 MMA, 6-3 UFC) doesn’t knock the gameplan he constructed with coach Eddie Cha prior to the fight. Instead, Jung tacks the loss up to Ortega’s arsenal – especially one highlight-reel in particular.
“The fight plan was perfect,” Jung said. “(Ortega) used spinning elbows a lot in other fights. … We prepared accordingly, but he aimed for it and did his job. Unfortunately, it was a shot that I couldn’t fully recover from, and I couldn’t perform to the best of my abilities.”
Since returning home to South Korea, Jung has focused on recovering from a collateral ligament tear that occurred during preparation for the Ortega fight. He had a procedure done, in which pins from an old ACL surgery were removed.
It may sound gruesome to some, but Jung called the procedure “simple” and he aims for a March or April return. When his name is called, Jung has his fingers crossed. There’s one matchup that stands out above the rest.
“I want Zabit (Magomedsharipov),” Jung said. “That’s the fight that’s going to get me closest to a title shot. More than that, I want to once again try to prove myself against one of the hottest fighters in the division and prove that I’m still capable of competing at the highest level. Of course, I would understand if he doesn’t want to fight me.”
Magomedsharipov (18-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) hasn’t competed since November 2019, though he was scheduled to fight in August before opponent Yair Rodriguez withdrew. With UFC president Dana White recently downplaying talk of a Rodriguez return, Jung thinks he’s a perfect candidate to fill the void.
Will Magomedsharipov accept the challenge? Jung isn’t sure.
“This is a fight that would bring the fans to their feet,” Jung said. “(He) and I are both entertainers and extremely competitive, so I think he’d like to step in the octagon with me. A win for both of us would mean a lot for our careers, and it would be an amazing match. The ball is in Zabit’s court; I want this fight to kick off 2021.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jung and Cha improvised and created a custom “Zombie-centric” camp to prepare for Ortega. Whether it is Magomedsharipov or someone else, Jung plans on preparing at Fight Ready MMA in Arizona – a sense of normalcy for his next camp.
“Training for my last fight in Korea was interesting,” Jung said. “It was very comfortable to be at home, but it also takes a lot of resources to bring my Fight Ready family around the world to me. Once I get my next opponent, I’ll likely travel and come join the squad in Arizona.”