Davis impresses, but ‘Zombie’ steals show

SEATTLE – Chan Sung Jung stole the show again. Light heavyweight Phil Davis garnered most of the prefight headlines, as a large contingent of fans anointed him as the only serious challenger to new UFC champion Jon Jones.

And while Davis came up with a unanimous decision victory over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on Saturday in the main event of Ultimate Fight Night 24 before a sellout crowd of 14,212, it was once again Jung, better known as “The Korean Zombie,” who left everyone amazed.

Nearly a year after he engaged in one of the great fights in recent vintage, Jung came up with one of the finest submissions in Ultimate Fighting Championship history when he forced Leonard Garcia to tap to a twister with just one second left in the second round of their featherweight match.

"The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung (foreground) applies a rarely used twister to get Leonard Garcia to submit at Saturday night's UFN 24.
Tracy Lee photo

Jung lost a split decision to Garcia at WEC 48 last April in Sacramento, Calif., in a slugfest that many picked as Fight of the Year. If possible, he one-upped himself on Saturday by pulling off the rarely seen submission that brought the house down.

It was the first time that a twister was completed in a UFC fight and one of the few times it was done in competition at any level of MMA. For that, he earned a $55,000 bonus for Fight of the Night.

“It’s something I saw a long time ago on the Internet on video,” Jung said. “It’s one of Eddie Bravo’s moves. It’s something I practiced because it looks fun and I do it quite a bit in practice. I have always told people I was going to try it sometime in competition. I wanted to do it in the UFC and I was able to, finally.”

Jung got Garcia’s back, pulled Garcia’s left arm behind his head toward the right shoulder and then cranked the neck.

Referee Dan Miragliotta said he teaches the move at his school in New Jersey.

“I teach it, but it never works,” the gregarious Miragliotta said, laughing.

And as many times as Jung has tried it, it hadn’t worked. And had there been more time, he probably wouldn’t have even taken a shot at it. But he knew it was late in the round and there was nothing to lose by attempting it.

He didn’t begin to move to apply the twister until there were roughly 20 seconds left in the round.

“I felt like I was a little behind in the second round, so if there were more than 30 seconds, I probably would have gone for something a little safer to try to maintain that round points-wise,” Jung said.

Davis did a lot of points scoring against Nogueira, taking down the veteran Brazilian several times in the second half of the fight to pull out a workmanlike victory. Davis won all three rounds on all judges’ cards to register a 30-27 victory across the board.

However, coming on the heels of Jones’ dynamic title-winning victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua a week earlier in New Jersey, and all the talk of Davis being his most legitimate challenger, Davis’ performance felt a bit underwhelming.

He’s got great wrestling skills and, despite being very inexperienced, is now 5-0 in the UFC. But the fast track he was on probably slowed after Saturday’s performance.

Davis isn’t particularly thrilled with all the Jones talk and said he needs to work more on improving his game.

“I’m just working on everything,” Davis said. “My teammates are real good about making sure they mix it up with me and give me a good look, different looks, all the time in practice. I really haven’t gotten to the point where I perform in the fight like I do in practice. That’s something that the best athletes are able to do.

“Once I get better, you’ll see a lot more variety and a lot more out of me. If you saw practice, you’d say, ‘Man, is this the same cat?’ It’s a lot more limited in the actual fight. I’m a young guy and I’m coming up. When you don’t have as much experience, you’ll see a little bit less in the fight, but I’m a work in progress.”

Another fighter who is still developing, welterweight Anthony Johnson, was dominant in a unanimous decision victory over Dan Hardy. Johnson’s progress, though, is in being able to control his weight. He ballooned up to around 230 pounds, but he insisted after the bout that it will never happen again.

Johnson, who said he weighed 195 in the cage on Saturday, arrived in Seattle on Tuesday weighing 186 and needing to cut 15 pounds to make the 171-pound limit for the bout with Hardy. It was, he said, extremely difficult.

“It was hell,” he said. “Like always. I was about to beat up my trainer a couple of times because he wouldn’t let me out of the sauna, but I’m glad that he kept me in there and we got the job done.”

Both fighters had promised before the fight to stand and trade punches, but Johnson, a former junior college national wrestling champion, used his wrestling to repeatedly take down Hardy.

The crowd was annoyed and booed lustily throughout, but Johnson didn’t sway from his game plan in his first fight since a loss to Josh Koscheck on Nov. 21, 2009.

“I knew I could bang with him and that was no problem,” Johnson said. “I knew I could do that. But his weakness is his wrestling and I knew that is one of my strengths, so I just took it to my advantage and used it.”

Hardy’s job status may now be in question, as his loss was his third in a row. He was routed in a welterweight championship match by Georges St. Pierre at UFC 111 last year, losing all five rounds. And he was knocked out by Carlos Condit at 4:27 of the first at UFC 120 in October. Given that he dropped all three rounds to Johnson, he hasn’t won any of his last nine rounds.

Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Sunday, Mar 27, 2011