A crash course to UFC 163: Jose Aldo vs. Jung Chan-Sung
Crash Course: Aldo vs. Jung
Everything you need to know about this weekend's big fight.
As Frankie Edgar learned in a March defeat, Jose Aldo likes to pepper his opponents early with kicks. (AP)
Fans cageside at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro are advised to be ready. The last time José Aldo fought there, in January of last year, the Brazilian buzzsaw celebrated victory by racing out of the octagon -- immediately upon finishing, even before he'd had his hand raised and his name announced as winner -- and charging into the electrified crowd of countrymen. If fighter and fans are to be joyfully reunited in the Rio de Janeiro hall on Saturday night, the featherweight champion must defeat Jung Chan-Sung in the main event of UFC 163 (10 p.m. ET, PPV, $54.99).
The 26-year-old Aldo (22-1, 4-0 in the UFC and 8-0 in the WEC before that) ranks No. 4 in the SI.com pound-for-pound rankings (and is poised to move up following Anderson Silva's loss a few weeks ago). He's No. 1 at featherweight, of course, having worn the WEC/UFC belt since November 2009. José has defended the strap six times, most recently against former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar in February, and has won 15 straight bouts dating to 2005.
Jung (13-3), also 26, is No. 7 in the SI.com featherweight rankings. His name often is Anglicized to Chan Sung Jung, but the resilient fighter is even more commonly known by his nickname, "The Korean Zombie." That's how he is identified in the UFC poster and other materials publicizing Saturday night's fight. Since joining the UFC in 2011, he has won all three of his fights, two by submission and one by knockout. But shoulder surgery following last year's tapout of Dustin Poirier has kept Jung out of the octagon for 15 months.
In addition to the pay-per-view telecast of the five-fight main card, four prelims will be shown on FX (8 p.m. ET) and three will stream on the UFC's Facebook page (6 p.m.).
The UFC 163 main event was originally to pit Aldo against lightweight contender Anthony Pettis, who had tired of waiting for his shot at that division's champ, Benson Henderson, and opted to drop down a weight class for an immediate go at the gold. That fight announcement did not please Jung, who told BJPenn.com that Pettis had "cut in line" and further opined that either he or his scheduled UFC 162 opponent, Ricardo Lamas, should have gotten the call to face Aldo.
Then fate intervened, via the UFC's ever-busy match breaker, the injury bug. In mid-June, Pettis tweaked his knee in training and had to pull out, and Jung was brought in to replace him. (Pettis, by the way, healed quickly enough to step in when, less than a month later, an injured T.J. Grant had to abandon his scheduled challenge of Henderson. So now Pettis will go for the 155-pound belt Aug. 31 in his hometown, Milwaukee.)
If Aldo cares about the shuffling of opponents, he's not saying. If anything, he seemed to agree with Jung that Pettis hadn't earned his shot at featherweight. But even "The Korean Zombie" could be seen as a queue jumper. Lamas, who was left without a fight in this game of musical chairs, is ranked ahead of Jung in the SI.com 145-pound hierarchy and the media-voted UFC rankings as well. But it's Jung who gets the chance to step in front of the Aldo express.
Official weights announced at Friday's weigh-in (7 p.m. ET, Fuel TV)
Other Numbers To Count On
100: Percentage of takedown attempts successfully defended by Jung, according to FightMetric statistics. Imagine: Aldo stuffs shots at a 92 percent clip and yet he's second-best in this matchup.
4.61: Strikes landed per minute by Jung. The busy Aldo lags here, too, at 3.46.
4: UFC bonuses won by Jung following his last three fights: two Submission of the Night, one Knockout of the Night, one Fight of the Night.
1: Finish among Aldo's last four victories (KO of Chad Mendes in January 2012), after he'd started his WEC career with six straight knockouts.
93: Months since Aldo's last loss (in November 2005, when he was choked out by Luciano Azevedo in a lightweight bout in his hometown.
The night Jose Aldo became champion:
The Korean Zombie pulls off a creative submission:
The fighters have similarly efficient takedown defense, and while that might seem to even things out, it actually favors Aldo. The Brazilian should want to keep this fight standing. The Korean should try to get it to the canvas.
Yes, Aldo does have a jiu-jitsu black belt, but Jung has shown more mat mastery. And even if José were to unleash a grappling game we haven't yet seen much of, that'd be better for "The Korean Zombie" than having to stand and trade. We've seen Aldo's kicks drain the life out of opponents, from bruised legs to wilting torsos. Jung doesn't want to deal with that, round after round. He'd be much better off putting his creative submission game in play.
Jung's overall mission will be to keep Aldo working, even if that means withstanding some punishment along the way. José can dish it out, but in recent fights his offensive output has slowed as his fights have worn on. The champ will get a lift from the Brazilian crowd, for sure, and unless Jung can do something dramatic, Aldo likely will get the better of the early rounds.
But Jung is resilient. That's part of the job description when you're a zombie, right? If the Korean can avoid falling too far behind on the scorecards early -- or being finished, of course -- he might have a late surge in him. Can he put Aldo on the defensive? We've not seen anyone do that, and in a keyed up building in Rio that seems like a long shot.
“I think this fight is a very good fight. He deserves to be there and he's shown that he deserves to be the contender. Everyone wants to fight for the title, but right now he deserves it.” --Aldo, asked during a conference call with MMA media last week whether he thought Jung was the deserving top challenger
“To be honest with you, I thought that [Ricardo] Lamas would have been the first choice as well. But I'm happy to be have been chosen. I think maybe what made the difference was the stylistic differences. I think that this fight is guaranteed to be an exciting fight. And that's probably one of the big reasons why they chose me to go over Lamas.” --Jung, asked the same question
Aldo is heavily favored, with odds at various sports books ranging from -800 (bet $100 to win $12.50) to -673 (bet $100 to win $14.86). Odds on Jung range from +587 (bet $100 to win $587) to +400 (bet $100 to win $400).
It would be a huge upset if "The Korean Zombie" were to pull this off. The betting line suggests that oddsmakers give Aldo a nearly 90 percent chance of retaining his belt. I don't know that this is that lopsided of a mismatch, but José sure does have a winning formula: Pepper his opponent from the start with kicks and punches from range, building up points on the scorecard while punishing the other guy's anatomy and psyche. Yes, he's been known to lose steam, but by the time that happens the champ tends to be chugging along to victory. Victory after victory ... as in 15 straight and counting. Jung is a survivor, though, so he'll make the champ put in a full night's work. Aldo by decision.
Aldo went into the crowd to celebrate his January 2012 win over Chad Mendes of the U.S. (Felipe Dana/AP)
The Tweet Beat
Join the conversation about Aldo vs. Jung on Twitter. Track the hashtags #AldoZombie and #ufc163 to see who's tweeting what about Saturday's fight. And get blow-by-blow coverage on SI.com via Loretta Hunt's live blog.
· Non-PPV fights (8 p.m. ET, FX): Vinny Magalhães vs. Anthony Perosh, light heavyweight; Amanda Nunes vs. Sheila Gaff, women's bantamweight; Sergio Moraes vs. Neil Magny, welterweight; Ian McCall vs. Iliarde Santos, flyweight.
· Facebook fights (6:30 p.m. ET): Rani Yahya vs. Josh Clopton, featherweight; Viscardi Andrade vs. Bristol Marunde, welterweight; Ednaldo Oliveira vs. Francimar Barroso, light heavyweight.
· Mike Goldberg will handle blow-by-blow for the PPV and prelims on FX and Facebook, with Brian Stann replacing Joe Rogan on analysis for this one event because of a Rogan scheduling conflict. Jay Glazer will host an hour-long postfight show on Fuel TV, beginning at 1 a.m.
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.