UFC Fight Night: Korean Zombie v Ige Predictions
“The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung returns for an epic showdown with fellow top 10 featherweight Dan Ige in the main event of UFC Vegas 29 on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
Old school meets new school in the co-main event at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas as veteran Aleksei Oleinik squares off with prospect Serghei Spivac in a heavyweight battle, while legendary brawler Matt Brown makes the walk once again for what should be a welterweight war against Dhiego Lima.
Staying in the 170-pound (77kg) division, Wellington Turman takes on Bruno Silva, plus, Marlon Vera faces Davey Grant at bantamweight and Julian Erosa and Choi Seung-Woo face-off at featherweight.
MAIN CARD (from 1 AM Sunday SA time):
Chan Sung Jung v Dan Ige (Featherweight)
Strap yourself in for a thrilling fire-fight between two of the featherweight division’s fiercest and finest who enter each fight with one singular goal – to take out their opponent. Scoring points isn’t a priority; for them, it’s all about finishing fights and with both seeking to stake their claim for a title shot, this is going to be a war.
Fourth-ranked Jung (16-6) is as dangerous and durable as they come. His ability to march forward under heavy fire is like something out of a horror film, which along with his striking and submission skills is why “The Korean Zombie” has captured the imagination of the fans like few fighters have.
His legendary toughness was on full display when he ran into a returning and reinvented Brian Ortega, who produced a career-best performance to end Jung’s two-fight win streak last October. Not even a superhuman effort from “T-City” was enough to switch Jung’s lights off, but it did stall his push for a second shot at the gold, the first coming back in 2013 when he succumbed to a prime Jose Aldo.
However, Ige (14-3) isn’t known as “Dynamite” for nothing and the devastating shot he flatlined Gavin Tucker within March (watch below) may well have stopped the Zombie. He’s predominantly a grappler, boasting a brown belt in judo and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a combination he uses to ground and stretch opponents, five of whom he submitted. He loves to get into a scrap though. An aggressive and exciting fighter, the heavy-handed Hawaiian is ranked eighth, having won seven of his last eight.
Jung doesn’t have Ige’s grappling credentials but he’s a proven and highly skilled submission artist. Half of his wins are by submission, including trapping Leonard Garcia in the first-ever twister inside the Octagon in his UFC debut a decade ago. The best example of his submission prowess and general pedigree came against Dustin Poirier in May 2012, when he finished the future interim lightweight champion with a Brabo choke in the fourth round.
There’s been plenty of highlights since, including stopping former lightweight title-holder Frankie Edgar two years ago in what was his sixth and most recent KO victory. With both men having knockout power and slick submission skills, this main event is a real pick ‘em.
The notable difference between the headliners is that Jung’s the more technical striker, which should be the decisive edge that sees “The Korean Zombie” rise again.
Aleksei Oleinik v Sergey Spivak (Heavyweight)
There are veterans of the fight game and then there’s Oleinik. A true pioneer, the warhorse has slugged it out in a whopping 75 fights since 1996 and heads into the weekend with a record of 59 wins, 15 losses and one no contest.
“The Boa Constrictor” is a submission artist unlike any other; his Ezekiel choke and neck cranks are nasty and have helped him rack up an unrivalled 46 wins by submission. He’s fought some of the best in the world and has notable wins over Travis Browne, Mark Hunt and former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. Since the win over Werdum last May, he’s suffered back-to-back losses and at 43 years of age, this may well be the 15th-ranked stalwart’s swansong.
Spivak (12-2), on the other hand, is on his way up, with the 26-year-old having won two in a row. A natural finisher out of Moldova, all but one of his wins are by stoppage (five knockouts and six submissions). Younger, faster, more athletic and a superior striker, I’m expecting a knockout from “The Polar Bear.”
Marlon Vera v Davey Grant (Bantamweight)
Five years after dropping a decision to Grant (12-4), Vera (16-6-1) has vengeance on his mind with the rematch finally set. As the younger man by seven years, time is on 28-year-old Vera’s side. Grant’s not over the hill by any means. In fact, he has momentum on his side, having won three on the bounce.
However, 15th-ranked Vera’s entering his prime. He handed the much-hyped Sean O’Malley the first loss of his career last May and went blow-for-blow in a co-main event against the great Aldo in December, ultimately ending up on the wrong side of the judges’ scorecards.
Both men are well-rounded, but “Chito” has shown greater growth since the first fight. A fatal flaw in Grant’s game has also come to light, with all four of the Brit’s losses coming by submission. Add to that the fact that Vera’s a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who has eight wins by submission and a submission win for the Brazilian at 4.50 is a juicy bet. Regardless of the method, I see Vera emerging victorious.
Julian Erosa v Choi Seung-Woo (Featherweight)
Erosa loves nothing more than to stand and bang but the aggressive southpaw has excellent submission skills as well. “Juicy J” enters the bout with a record of 25-9 with 22 stoppages, split evenly between knockouts and submissions, dangerous diversity that was highlighted by his last two fights, which saw him submit Sean Woodson and starch Nate Landwehr with a flying knee.
Seung-Woo (9-3) is also on a two-fight win streak, both coming by decision. He has fight-finishing power, though, as his five knockouts attest. “Sting” is rather one dimensional and often finds himself on the floor having to work his way back up after being taken down. Erosa’s safest path to victory is to ground the South Korean and go to his submission game, but he has the edge across the board and will most likely add another stoppage victory to his record.
Wellington Turman v Bruno Silva (Welterweight)
Fresh off serving a two-year suspension for a banned substance, Silva (19-6) will look to make up for lost time and start his road to redemption as he finally makes his UFC debut in a battle of Brazilians. Highly-touted and an extremely dangerous striker, “Blindado” is a former M-1 champion with 16 knockouts on his résumé.
Turman (16-4) is a top-level grappler with seven submission wins, while he also has four KO victories. He’s struggled with the step up to the UFC; he’s 1-2 in the promotion and coming off a knockout loss to Andrew Sanchez last August. Each is the other man’s kryptonite; all but one of Silva’s losses are by submission, while “The Prodigy” struggles against high-level strikers.
Turman is tricky but still evolving at just 24. Silva has proven pedigree and should turn Turman’s lights off to announce his arrival in the UFC.
Matt Brown v Dhiego Lima (Welterweight)
Brown (22-18) has built a cult following on brutality (20 finishes) and dogged determination. His savagery and skill over 40 fights have assured that “The Immortal” will indeed live on in lore, however, at 40 years of age, time has caught up with the grizzled gunslinger, which sees him come back as a 1.40 underdog.
For 21 years, it seemed impossible to stop him with strikes, but Father Time came calling in 2016 and since then, three of his four losses have been by KO/TKO. He lost his last fight to fellow legend Carlos Condit by decision in January and last tasted victory when he knocked out Ben Saunders at the end of 2019.
Lima (15-8) had been on a roll since 2018, winning three in a row before being outpointed by the surging Belal Muhammad in February. Just over half (8) of the 31-year-old’s wins are by stoppage, split straight down the middle, and given Brown’s recent track record, I see Lima getting the game but worn-down veteran out of there.