In the UFC´s last card of 2019, perennial contender and UFC veteran Frankie “The answer” Edgar takes on action fighter and fan favourite Chan Sung Jung, best known as the Korean Zombie. It was supossed to be Brian Ortega in place of the veteran from New Jersey, but he withdrew with a knee injury and Edgar did not doubt to answer the UFC´s call to replace him on short notice, most probably compromising his own future main event fight at UFC Raleigh against Cory Sandaghen at bantamweight.
There is no introduction needed for Frankie Edgar, who at 38 years of age and right when he was about to make a move down to 135 pounds instead finds himself once more into the fray at featherweight against a fearsome contender in the Korean. Frankie has been in there with the best of the best the UFC has had to offer in the last decade, winning the lightweight belt in the process and coming just short in a number of title fights.
The Korean Jung has only fought three times in the last two years since losing by knockout (injuring his shoulder) in a failed titleshot battle against then seemingly untouchable Jose Aldo. This is because he needed to complete military service back home, and in the meantime nurse some injuries. He has been terrifying since he came back though, obliterating Dennis Bermudez inside a round, then beating Yair Rodriguez handily for the better part of a five round war only to get knocked out in the last second absurdly. He was last seen erasing Renato Moicano from the featherweight division via overhand right counter.
It has never been a secret what Edgar brings to the table. The American is though as nails and more than competent in every phase of the game. His scrambling ability and comprehension of a then still developing sport back in the day allowed him to climb the ladder and keep there to this day. Although he can be competitive on the feet with almost anyone, his bread an butter is his grappling and more precisely his chain wrestling. With the aforementioned scrambling, this combination has always made Edgar a handful for anybody, and a nightmare for subpar grapplers. However we cannot igonore the fact that his best days are behind him, and he seems to have lost that extra mile in the grappling department that made him so difficult to beat. Could be argued his last great performance came against then developing Mexican prospect Yair Rodriguez, administering the youngster a beating to be remembered. He has taken a lot of punishment during his career and Brian Ortega destroyed him just three fights ago. He followed with a clear decision win against equally fading Cub Swanson, only to lose a very clear but still somewhat competitive decision to now former champ Max Holloway.
Jung was a face first brawler when he first appeared in WEC and even during his initial UFC fights, having some memorable wars during that period to honour his nickname. The Korean has a sturdy chin. He has only been taken down by one opponent during his UFC ternure (Jose Aldo took him down several times), showing good takedown defense and solid defensive awareness grappling wise. On the offensive he is a marvelous fighter to watch. Who does not remember his Twister submission over Leonard Garcia in their rematch? His best performance grappling wise probably came against Dustin Poirier in a memorable four round affair in which he showed excellent all around grappling, displaying some counterwrestling and scrambling and finally finishing his man with a beautifully executed D´Arce choke. He is a dangerous fighter from front choke positions, and if given the chance to take the back he does it in a deadly way, just ask Moicano. Striking wise he is a much more polished fighter since his return, boasting very good technical boxing and excellent punching power. Add to that a natural instinct for counterpunching. Zombie lives and dies in the distance your boxing coach would tell you to avoid. It´s there where he does his best work, showing no fear keeping his ground and getting into exchanges. He demolished Bermudez with a perfectly timed uppercut on an entry, and the overhand he hit on Moicano was a thing of beauty. He had perfectly studied Moicano´s jab and even baited him with a lazy one of his own. It was a picture perfect sequence. In my opinion Jung is underrated both as a technician and a tactician, which is understandable when seeing him unload on cornered opponents against the fence with abandon. But do not gt it wrong, there is a method to his madness.
So how is this fight gonna play out? In my opinion Edgar finishing Jung is a very tall order for the aging veteran. Zombie has always shown an excellent chin and Edgar is not a big knockout artist. Can Edgar win a decision here then? It is a no from me. He sure can but I just do not see it happening. Even if he is succesful implementing his grappling, he would need to fight a near perfect fight to keep him away from Zombie´s power for 25 minutes. All that while also keeping safe from getting swept or exposing his neck to one of Jung´s trademark finishes, which he will no doubt look for if he sees the opening. I think Edgar is going to have trouble getting his takedown game going and even when getting them Jung is a fantastic scrambler himself. And if this fight plays out on the feet I just see Jung eventually catching Edgar and that would be the begining of the end. Pay attention to Jung´s intercepting uppercut in this fight, the exact same he did with Bermudez. I thought it was there all night for Holloway in Frankie´s last fight but he never truly commited to it, and he does not have the same power the Korean posseses.
At the moment of this writing Zombie is the favourite at around (-160), while Edgar sits at (+140). The prediction here is Chang Jung Sung to eventually catch Frankie and finish the fight, and it could come at any moment. I feel Zombie will get this done inside the distance in spectacular fashion and make his case for a tittle shot.
Official pick: Chang Sung Jung KO Frankie Edgar