Saturday’s UFC Busan event is in the books, and now that the dust has settled in South Korea, it’s time to go to the scorecard to see who the big winners were at Sajik Arena.
After a wild submission win over Khadis Ibragimov in August and a decisive knockout of Mike Rodriguez last weekend, South Korea’s Da-un Jung looks like he may just be the latest addition to a list of up and coming light heavyweights making that division very interesting again. And speaking of interesting, Jung wants to fight Gian Villante in 2020. I’m in!
Volkan Oezdemir may have come up short in his first UFC title shot against Daniel Cormier nearly two years ago, but patient, yet effective, wins over Ilir Latifi and Aleksandar Rakic have him closing in on another crack at the crown, and it’s hard to count him out if he does get a title shot in late-2020. Of course, there are a few folks ahead of him on the line to meet Jon Jones, but should Jones get by Dominick Reyes (a fighter many people believe Oezdemir beat in their March bout), Jones-Oezdemir could be very interesting, as would a Reyes-Oezdemir rematch.
Ever since season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter, it was clear that Alexandre Pantoja was an intense competitor who was willing to go into those dark places to get the victory on fight night, and nothing has changed in the last couple years to change my opinion of him. But now, with the flyweight title vacant and a Performance of the Night knockout of Matt Schnell putting him at 6-2 in the UFC, he’s going to get his chance to reach an even wider audience in 2020, a year when he could very well find himself challenging the winner of the bout for the vacant title between Joseph Benavidez and the man he engaged in a Fight of the Night with earlier this year, Deiveson Figueiredo.
After jumping up ten pounds for a short-notice debut against Desmond Green in May and losing a decision, Charles Jourdain admitted that he faltered under pressure against Green and promised a return to form against Dooho Choi. Of course that’s what he’s supposed to say, but most who do don’t deliver the second time around. Jourdain did, taking on a tough test, battling through some adversity and then finishing matters in the second round. In the process, we now know that Jourdain is one of those fighters who we should be tuning in for every time he steps into the Octagon.
It’s easy to wonder where Chan Sung Jung, aka The Korean Zombie, would be if not for injuries and two years of mandatory military service in South Korea. But having said that, “The Zombie” is still a top featherweight, only 32 years old, and on a hot streak that has seen him beat a pair of opponents in Frankie Edgar and Renato Moicano that don’t get stopped the way he’s stopped them. That makes him the perfect candidate for a 2020 shot at newly crowned Alexander Volkanovski, and if not “Alexander the Great”, what kind of war would Zombie vs Max Holloway be? Wow.