The UFC returns to Fairfax, Va., for the second time and to Fuel TV for a third with a potential barn-burning main event between two young featherweight contenders. Both are undefeated in the Octagon and are looking to cement their own shot at Jose Aldo’s gold strap by the end of the year.

Chan Sung Jung—or Jung Chan-Sung depending on your location—better known as the “Korean Zombie” is undefeated in the UFC, but it’s only because he’s only fought twice. Granted, those were very impressive and memorable victories that earned him “Submission of the Night/Year” and “Knockout of the Night.” His adversary, Dustin Poirier, has only one loss—to Danny Castillo—in 13 fights, and is coming off his own “Submission of the Night” at UFC 143. He is riding a five-fight winning streak, four of which have come under the UFC banner.

Needless to say, these two have the devastating skill and explosive excitement in their youthful styles to make this main event more than worthwhile. But entertainment value alone is not always enough to keep those ADD fair-weather fans in their seats in front of their flat screens. Not to mention, this is a card loaded with a lack of notoriety—as far as names are concerned. Ask your buddies if they’ve ever heard of Poirier or the “Korean Zombie”…or Chan Sung Jung.

More than likely they haven’t, but these are the types of events that fairly unknown guys use as a platform to showoff everything they’re capable of doing in the cage. It’s a fight-fan friendly recipe for a night full of action, determination and finishes. These are the cards that slowly draw you in once the show is turned on. The first few fights produce solids submissions or knockouts, you remember how perfectly tailored Arianny’s work attire is on a 50-inch TV, the majority of the guys fight their hearts out, and then it’s over. Fans will be happy they tuned in next week for the UFC’s free night of fights—on what would have probably been a boring night of laundry and crappy reality shows anyways.

With that said, I’m glad you’re joining me at The MMA Corner on a Wednesday to break down another Fight of Week. Normally, you would be completely justified in rolling your eyes at my name (I have a love-hate relationship with my readers…and my editors), but since UFC on Fuel TV 3 is oddly scheduled for next Tuesday, we decided it would be appropriate to drop our Monday piece in the middle of the week—to help you get over the hump. So, sorry if your case of the Mondays was worse than usual this week without a deliciously flavored FOW to devour.

Let’s jump head first!

Striking: Korean Zombie – 7, Poirier – 8

Jung (unconscious) has holes in his striking game (April Pishna/MMA Weekly)

Both guys are dangerous with their hands and have no problem letting the leather fly too. We’re not too far removed from that infamous “Fight of the Year” engagement at WEC 48; everybody remembers the careless “slobberknocker” that the “Korean Zombie” found himself in with Leonard Garcia in their first fight. Caution was drop-kicked to the wind that night with each fighter giving as much punishment as he was receiving.

Personally, that fight exposed the “Zombie’s” shaky boxing defense as much as it displayed his courage and power. He doesn’t have huge power, but it would be unwise for Poirier to discredit Jung as a weak slugger not capable of dropping anybody in the division. Even though the fan-favorite has vowed to fight a smarter style and safer game plan, that doesn’t mean Jung won’t find himself toe-to-toe with Poirier at some point throughout the night and that could be concerning for his corner.

Knocking out Mark Hominick in seven seconds is no easy feat—just ask Eddie Yagin—but it’s a far cry from the norm and does little to encompass “Zombie’s” true striking range. Let’s not forget how George Roop took advantage and landed a high kick to drop Jung like a bag of potatoes. In this case, Poirier’s superior technique should trump his foe’s ability to sometimes give and take a shot.

The Clinch: Korean Zombie – 6, Poirier – 7

Poirier should be stronger from this position, allowing him the opportunity to maintain dominant underhooks and land effective knees to his opponent on the cage. Both guys are unlikely to cause significant damage in the clinch, but being as the fight will more than likely be decided on the feet or on the ground, there will be plenty of quick spurts of action off the cage. Non-wrestling strikers with good submissions tend to use this position as a transitional gateway to the mat. Look for the 23-year-old Poirier to win the exchanges in the clinch and positioning off the cage, tiring out Jung during the process and scoring the occasional trip or throw.

Ground Game: Korean Zombie – 7, Poirier – 7.5

Jung (blue tape) applies a Twister (SBNation)

Poirier is a slick Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt who is coming off two consecutive submission finishes in the Octagon. He pulled off a nice d’arce choke on Pablo Garza, a formidable ground specialist, and a mounted triangle-armbar against Max Holloway in February. This is just another testament to how well-rounded this young kid has become—particularly with his striking and ground game.

To “Zombie’s” credit, he did finish Leonard Garcia via twister, the first of its kind to surface in the Octagon, and looked confident in doing so. Again, I would refrain from calling that a go-to move of his. Poirier will want to use his strength advantage early to gain an edge once he starts grappling and scrambling with his opponent. Of course, this fight should be very competitive on the mat, giving both fighters high finishing probabilities the longer the contest unfolds.

Wrestling: Koean Zombie – 5, Poirier – 5

Neither guy has looked all that impressive from this standpoint. This is mainly because wrestling is not a heavily used discipline for either fighter, or at least hasn’t proven to be. For all practical reasons, wrestling comes out as a wash when comparing these two. Although “Zombie” has spent some time training with accomplished wrestlers from Team Alpha Male in the past, a case could be made for either guy.

Furthermore, since this area of the game is so uncontested on paper, it could be a perfect way to completely throw off one another and gain an unforeseen advantage. Don’t hold your breathe for any singles or doubles though; it seems very unlikely from either fighter.

X-Factor

I want to see whose chin is made of granite and whose chin is made of rotting flesh. We know both guys can take a shot to the face—Poirier has yet to suffer a knockout or TKO loss and, well, Chan Sung Jung isn’t called a “Korean Zombie” for nothing—but whoever can optimize their striking defense against the pressure of an aggressive attack should have an upper hand. A lot will be decided by which striker can control the Octagon and apply pressure in return, while being able to absorb the unavoidable power punches that slip through. It’ll be interesting to see if Poirier’s boxing defense is on par with Jung’s uncanny ability to absorb punches and which of these characteristics will fall short first, because neither fighter will leave unscathed.

Total: Korean Zombie – 25, Poirier – 27.5

Poirier (bottom right) looks for an armbar (Sherdog)

Verdict: At first glance, this seems like a very evenly matched main event—which for the most part it is—but the younger, stronger, and more technical Poirier seems a little better than Jung in every category. Poirier should find success running his opponent down and landing combinations on the feet. Once this one hits the ground, he should be able to use his strength and technique to impose his submission offense. Both fighters are entering the cage with a lot of shared momentum in their sails and even more to gain: a shot at headlining a UFC event and a chance at being the next featherweight contender. Anything can happen at this level, but I have a feeling Poirier will prove to the MMA world that he is ready to keep the top of the featherweight division honest by being a legitimate threat to the title after winning a convincing decision over the “Korean Zombie.”

Top Photo: Dustin Poirier (L) delivers a right hand (Sherdog)

This piece was authored by Joe Schafer. You can find Joe on Twitter: @joeschafer84

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