When it was announced that Anthony Pettis was injured and forced out of the UFC 163 featherweight title fight with champion Jose Aldo, some were surprised when “The Korean Zombie,” Chan-Sung Jung, was named as Pettis’ replacement.
In fact, Jung was one of them.
“At first, I was really in disbelief about it, and so until Dana White actually announced that I was going to be in the fight, I actually didn't really even believe it, but it was true. But the excitement lasted quite a while,” said Jung on a recent media conference call promoting the event.
Jung was originally scheduled to face Ricardo Lamas at UFC 162, but was pulled from the fight to face Aldo. Lamas is ranked higher than Jung and many felt Lamas should have been Pettis’ replacement. Jung doesn’t disagree, but believes more than just rankings were factored into the decision.
“To be honest with you, I thought that Lamas would have been the first choice as well. But I'm happy to be have been chosen,” he said. “I think maybe what made the difference was the stylistic differences and 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.”
The stylistic match-up may have well played into the decision to put Jung in against Aldo, but marketing could also have been a factor.
Jung is from South Korea and mixed martial arts is a growing sport there.
“In particular, in MMA circles, it's just probably one of the biggest things that's happened in Korea and MMA. Overall, there's been quite a bit of response from the mass media as well. And the general public even seems to be very interested, not only in the fights, but more and more interested in MMA as well,” said the 26-year-old fighter.
Jung last competed on May 15, 2012, defeating Dustin Poirier by submission. That amount of time off can be detrimental to a fighter, but Jung feels it was beneficial.
“They gave me a lot of time to prepare mentally and physically, to get my injuries all healed up. And so I think the time off actually helped benefit me.”
Jung and Aldo square off in the UFC 163 main event on Saturday night at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.