Top featherweights Chan Sung Jung and Yair Rodriguez battled in the main event of tonight’s (Sat., November 10, 2018) UFC Fight Night 139 from Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
It was a long road to return for both fighters. Jung had been out of action since he destroyed Dennis Bermudez following a three-and-a-half year layoff in February 2017. A serious knee injury put him on the sidelines for another 21 months. “The Korean Zombie” was still known as one of the most action-focused fighters at 145 pounds.
Rodriguez was once hyped up as perhaps the fastest-rising star in the UFC. But he was perhaps fast-tracked too soon, with a bludgeoning loss to Frankie Edgar in May 2017 put him on the sidelines for 18 months himself.
Both fighters had much to prove.
Rodriguez came out with a hard low kick that staggered Jung, who answered with some punches. Jung rushed forward to throw a combination. He landed and stung ‘El Pantera’ with some good punches. The flashy Rodriguez snapped low kicks, but Jung hit him with some uppercuts up close. A good front kick found a home from Rodriguez. Jung threw a leg kick but ‘El Pantera’ countered with a punch. “The Korean Zombie” snapped his own front kick.
Jung swarmed Rodriguez with some solid shots. The TUF Latin America winner defended well and got out of danger. Jung snapped a good jab. A left hand scored as well and Jung looked for a takedown. Rodriguez rolled through it to close out a back-and-forth first frame.
‘El Pantera’ scored a jab to open the second. Jung countered with a combo. He followed with another combo and a left hook. Jung clinched but Rodriguez reversed. A low blow on Jung halted the fight. Jung landed a big kick and barely missed a big right. Rodriguez slapped a high kick that was blocked before following with a low kick. Jung scored on a jab.
Jung rushed in with a combo but was met with a spinning elbow. He ate it and went for a takedown attempt. Rodriguez defended it well. Jung again went with his jab. “El Pantera” threw an unorthodox hammerfist to the shoulder of Jung. He then leaped for a flying knee and followed with a high kick. They traded shots and Rodriguez snapped a back elbow. Jung was cut as the second round came to a conclusion.
Jung pressed the action to begin the third frame. A high kick glanced off Jung’s face. He threw a cartwheel kick that missed the mark. Rodriguez landed a hard body kick followed by another. Jung snapped a left and followed with a combination. Rodriguez scored with a left hand. Jung wobbled Rodriguez with a hard strike. Another straight shot found a home. Snapping body kicks and a stiff jab landed from Rodriguez.
Jung threw a hard hook and both fighters were bleeding. Rodriguez dropped low for an ankle roll but Jung wasn’t fooled. ‘The Korean Zombie’ landed a big shot to finish the third round.
A frenetic fight was at hand.
Jung came out with his patented step-in uppercut to begin the championship (or main event) rounds. ‘The Korean Zombie’ landed his lead left hook directly after it. Another hook scored, although somewhat lighter. Rodriguez landed a body kick. He shoved Jung to the mat but ‘KZ’ landed another left hook. Both snapped their jabs and Rodriguez another body kick.
“El Pantera” threw a double switch kick that just missed. Rodriguez snapped his jab again and Jung countered with a combo. Jung landed a huge right hand to stun his opponent, following with a knee off the break. Jung scored with more big punches. A big right came over the top. Rodriguez landed another hard body kick and rolled on the mat, but again the “Zombie” wasn’t fooled. Jung scored a final right hand to end the round.
The fighters embraced to start the last round.
Rodriguez threw a low kick to start the action. Jung landed more punches, highlighted by his counter right hands that kept finding their mark. A left followed. Rodriguez leaped for a Superman punch and just missed. Low kicks landed from ‘El Pantera.’ Rodriguez shot a takedown and Jung defended to land a left hook off the break.
A right hand from Rodriguez stung Jung, but “The Korean Zombie” lived up to his name. He landed more shots as the grueling bout neared two minutes left. Rodriguez scored with a head kick. Jung buckled his knees with a shot but “El Pantera” rebounded quick as well. The Mexican star threw another spinning backfist. The fights’ final minute was at hand.
Rodriguez threw a spinning back kick to the body. Jung rushed in with another combination. The fighters threw down and Rodriguez clipped Jung with a vicious up elbow that knocked him out cold as the bell sounded. Insane ending and a classic fight.
Final Result: Yair Rodriguez def. Chan Sung Jung via R5 KO (elbow, 4:59)