Like you, when I first heard the news that "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung was stepping in for an injured Nam Phan to fight Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia at UFC Fight Night 24, I was thrilled. Their first fight was the stuff of legends. Two tiny warriors throwing Hail Mary bombs at a frenetic pace for fifteen straight minutes. It wasn’t technical, it wasn’t pretty, but it was one of the biggest displays of heart and tenacity that I’ve ever seen in the cage.
After the initial buzz of the announcement wore off, I had some time to think. These two guys have been through a lot since their 2010 Fight of the Year.
Jung’s skull was nearly caved in by a George Roop head kick at WEC 51. The memory of his head repeatedly bouncing off the canvas still haunts me. In his now infamous post-fight blog post, Jung stated that he’d never fight the same again. A few notable excerpts:
As if going for a takedown were a sin, I didn't even consider it.
So, that is how scary and painful it is to get knocked out….
I'm going to change.
It's okay if you take away my Korean Zombie title.
It's okay if everyone boos me.
It's okay if no one in the world ever cheers for me again.
For everyone who has supported me thus far, that I have let down...
I make this promise to you...that I will never fight with the same style, ever again.
Many fighters have never been the same after their first big knockout. Some call it "Tim Sylvia Syndrome." Brandon Vera comes to mind. He has never really looked the same after his first round TKO at the hands of Fabricio Werdum. What will be going through the Korean Zombie’s mind when he steps in the cage again?
Leonard Garcia's issues after the jump.
Garcia has also dealt with issues concerning his fighting style. His aggressive, wing-haymakers-from-the-hip performances initially were very fan-friendly but times have changed quickly. Starting with the Jung fight, judges have repeatedly been hypnotized by Garcia’s aggressiveness, failing to notice that he hardly ever lands those power punches.
Garcia only landed 20% of his significant strikes against featherweight title challenger Mark Hominick and was still awarded the fight on one judge’s scorecard despite being thoroughly picked apart by "The Machine’s" technical jabs.
Worst of all was Garcia’s split decision victory from TUF 12 participant Nam Phan at the The Ultimate Fighter12 Finale in a bout that many called the biggest robbery of 2010. It was a fight where Garcia was clearly outstruck in both percentage and volume. He can only apologize to the fans so many times, promising that he’s not a judge. Could Saturday night be the first time Garcia tries to use his full skillset to convincingly win a fight with no controversy?
My final point is that rematches themselves are very hard to predict. Not many analysts expected Shogun to put Lyoto Machida’s lights out in less than a round after their five round war of attrition in their first fight. Does anyone even remember Forrest Griffin-Stephan Bonnar 2?
I could be wrong. On Saturday night, when the cage doors close, both men could forget all their problems and go right back to slugging it out with reckless abandon. But please, I beg you, temper your expectations.