UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo has been fighting for Zuffa LLC, parent company of both the UFC and the now-dissolved WEC promotion, for over five years. In that time, he has amassed an amazing 12-0 record and is widely considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Only four of his last 12 opponents have made it the distance, and all of those decisions were of the unanimous variety. This Saturday, he will have another chance to defend his title in his home country.

On Aug. 3, live from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the UFC 163 main event features Aldo facing off against another guy who’s undefeated in the Octagon, “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.

The Korean Zombie was actually 0-2 in WEC action before the UFC merger. However, since entering the big show, he has finished all three of his opponents, earning “of the Night” honors on all three occasions, including “Fight of the Year” honors for his latest win over Dustin Poirier. He will be arguably Aldo’s biggest challenge of his career.

It was announced on June 14 that Jung would replace an injured Anthony Pettis, Aldo’s original challenger. With nearly two months to prepare, one can be sure that the Zombie will be ready to put on another “of the Night” performance against a guy that hasn’t lost in pro MMA since 2005.

Let’s take a deeper look at the match-up. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills match up against one another using similar scoring to the unified rules.

Striking: Aldo – 10, Jung – 9

The Korean Zombie may have a black belt in taekwondo, but Aldo is a Muay Thai expert and striking is where he has proven that he dominates the featherweight division. The biggest challenges that Zombie presents are in his height and counter-striking. His counter-striking stifled Poirier and his moves are calculated. Also, since becoming champion, Aldo has only fought one guy that was near his height, and that was a fairly emaciated Kenny Florian, who was at his lightest division ever. That is not the case with the Zombie.

Outside of height, the other major challenge that Aldo will face is in Jung’s loss column. Until George Roop caught him with a head kick, knocking him out cold in his last fight under the WEC banner, the Zombie had never been knocked out. Roop’s kick hardly exposed a weakness in his game, but more so proved that anyone can be knocked out. That being said, Jung earned the Zombie moniker because anybody that has seen him fight knows that he can take a lickin’ and keep pressing forward.

Aldo definitely faces some tough obstacles in the stand-up game for this bout, but eight knockouts in 12 Zuffa wins tell the whole story. Aldo is crisp, fast, and has creative angles. Combined with his elusiveness, he is nearly impossible to catch clean, and when his opponents miss, he capitalizes.

The Korean Zombie may be good, but Aldo is the best featherweight striker in the world.

Wrestling: Aldo – 10, Jung – 9

Wrestling is not really a strong point of either fighter, but for different reasons. Being that neither of them are from the United States or Eastern Europe, the likeliness of a wrestling background in MMA is greatly diminished. The closest to wrestling training for either of them would be BJJ or judo. There is, however, one really strong difference in their wrestling games: takedown defense.

While the Zombie has had his fair share of decent wrestling opponents, none of them come close in skill to guys like Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar and Mike Brown, all of whom Aldo has beaten handily. In his fight with Edgar, Aldo repeatedly stuffed takedown attempts for 25 minutes straight and appeared to do it with ease. Edgar was a small lightweight, but he is a big featherweight and had nothing for Aldo in the wrestling department.

Even though both men are formally trained in similar ground fighting arts, The Korean Zombie’s only advantage is his taller frame. While that makes him more effective in a ground control situation, it won’t matter if he can’t get Aldo down.

Aldo definitely dominates the wrestling department going into this match.

Submission Grappling: Aldo – 9, Jung – 10

Aldo holds a black belt in BJJ. The Korean Zombie is a BJJ blue belt and also holds a green belt in judo. On the surface, one could easily deduce that Aldo should be the better grappler, but that is not the case. Aldo is so good at takedown defense that he has never had to show his BJJ skills. His fights don’t really go to the mat very much. However, his sole loss in 2005 was by submission, and his two submission victories were in the first five fights of his career (and one came by way of soccer kicks, so that doesn’t technically count as a true submission).

The Korean fighter has led a much different fight life, with eight of his 13 wins coming by tapout. The Zombie is almost always the taller of the two fighters in his bouts, and his lanky frame makes him very dangerous on the ground. Two of his UFC victories were submission wins over BJJ brown belts Dustin Poirier and Leonard Garcia, with his wicked twister neck crank of Garcia clearly showing an expert level of BJJ proficiency.

Aldo may be the black belt, but he will be in big trouble against The Korean Zombie if this fight ends up on the ground.

Durability: Aldo – 10, Jung – 10

Durability is a factor in every fight both of these guys have respectively been in. The Korean Zombie earned his nickname by coming forward after taking dangerous shots over and over again. He truly fights like a zombie or a robot. As noted earlier, Roop was able to knock him out, but that was an anomaly. For Aldo, there has been no anomaly of the sort.

Aldo has gone five rounds with Edgar, Faber, Florian and Mark Hominick, who is known for his tremendous striking prowess, and has not only taken all the nods, he has never really looked badly damaged. Part of that is his elusiveness, but he has taken some big shots and has still never been stopped from strikes.

While durability is a big factor for their opponents, Aldo and Jung are two of the best in that department, and both are going to be tough to damage badly.

Speed: Aldo – 10, Jung – 9

Speed is one of the main reasons the champ is the champ. Aldo’s quickness is not just in forward-pressing speed either, as his reaction timing is also amazing. Aldo’s aforementioned takedown defense, his striking, and his elusiveness are all bigger factors because of his ability to move and move quickly.

The Korean Zombie is not a slow fighter by any means, but his moves are very cool and calculated, not requiring a ton of speed in the first place. He has great spatial awareness, but so does Aldo.

Since both fighters are very good at defense and counter-strikes, speed will play more of a factor than it has in the Korean fighter’s previous fights, and the Brazilian is sure to capitalize on this aspect of his game.

X-factor

At the championship level, experience is more of an x-factor than it is at the journeyman level. While The Korean Zombie may be nearly the same age as Aldo, the experience levels are not even comparable.

Aldo has 23 pro fights going back to 2004. He has fought the best and has beaten the best, and his experience level is off the charts. The Zombie has a very impressive record with 16 fights dating back to 2007, but the level of competition was not even close.

Aldo has won or defended his title eight times on the biggest stage in the game. He’s fought strikers, wrestlers and BJJ practitioners. Most of Jung’s experience was on the Asian circuits, like Pancrase, Sengoku and KoreaFC, where he was always the much larger fighter, but even though he has the height advantage over Aldo, he has yet to face someone with that level of experience.

Total: Aldo – 49, Jung – 47

Verdict: The Korean Zombie will definitely be one of the toughest challengers the champ has yet to face under a Zuffa banner, but it’s nothing that Aldo is not used to. Aldo has been on a meteoric winning streak since 2005, mimicking the likes of GSP and (until recently) Anderson Silva. Aldo may be beatable on the ground, but Jung is going to have a bear of a time trying to get him there. As in every other bout, Aldo will stick and move, stuff takedown attempts, and wait for that right moment where he can hand The Korean Zombie his second knockout defeat and, in doing so, retain the strap as the UFC featherweight champion.

Photo: Jose Aldo (R) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator