Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight strikers Chan Sung Jung and Yair Rodriguez will clash TONIGHT (Nov. 10, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 139 inside Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
Despite some stellar performances in his recent wins, making it to the cage has become a major issue in Jung’s career over the last few years. This will be the South Korean’s first fight in 2018, a bout that will potentially reintroduce Jung to the title mix if he can both win and take another fight reasonably soon. Rodriguez is also coming off a significant layoff, so I suppose the ring rust cancels out? Rodriguez’s first loss inside the Octagon was a bad one and being sort of released from the UFC is never a great sign, but this is Rodriguez’s chance to jump back into the swing of things and remind the fighting world of his unique talents.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Chan Sung Jung
Key Wins: Dustin Poirier (UFC on Fuel TV 3), Dennis Bermudez (UFC Fight Night 104), Mark Hominick (UFC 140), Leonard Garcia (UFC Fight Night 24)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC 163), George Roop (WEC 51)
Keys to Victory: Most famous for his brawling ability and twister submission, “Korean Zombie” is a well-rounded finisher. A Judo black belt with legitimate knockout power, Jung has refined his offense-first considerably since the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) days.
Opposite Rodriguez, pressure and range are the most key factors. Rodriguez is most comfortable jumping and kicking unpredictably in the middle of the Octagon. When forced into pocket exchanges, Rodriguez is far less comfortable and throws recklessly.
Jung has the aggression, toughness, and boxing technique to make Rodriguez pay for his inexperience in the pocket. Even aside from the strategy of out-boxing Rodriguez, forcing the Mexican athlete to kick from his back foot limits his techniques significantly. In fact, it’s not uncommon for Rodriguez to lose his footing while trying to back off and kick, which would great opportunity for Jung to take top position and go to work.
Key Wins: Andre Fili (UFC 197), Charles Rosa (UFC 188), Dan Hooker (UFC 192), BJ Penn (UFC Fight Night 103)
Key Losses: Frankie Edgar (UFC 211)
Keys to Victory: Rodriguez is not an easy fighter to replicate. The Tae Kwon Doe black belt has a great deal of power behind his kicks and a very deep bag of range techniques to pull from, and somehow he also seems to have the endless gas tank to maintain his output.
Opposite Edgar, Rodriguez’s ability to maintain distance and defensively wrestle were tested by an all-time great — it didn’t work out. This time around, it’s much more a test of range, as Jung is more of an opportunistic grappler than devoted chain wrestler like Edgar.
As such, Rodriguez needs to double down on what works and controls range before unleashing all the flash. First and foremost, I’d like to see an abundance of front kicks from the rangy “Pantera.” As explained in the video above, a commitment to low kicks will also benefit Rodriguez. Finally, it’s important that Rodriguez makes use of straight punches when Jung does advance past the kicking range. If he panics and fires indiscriminately, Jung will gain a read on him and set up hard shots shortly after.
Bottom Line: It’s almost definitely going to be a fun fight between men attempting to gain back their contender status.
Despite the different circumstances, both Jung and Rodriguez fell out of the top 10 due to inactivity in a thriving division. Not fighting prevented them from maintaining their rank, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t some of the best 145 pound combatants in the world. Both Jung and Rodriguez have fairly unique skills that are still intriguing to pit against the division’s best, but only the winner will be granted such an opportunity right away.
A loss does hurt, particularly for Jung, who is in his 11th year as a professional fighter. Either way though, it’s not possible to reclaim a spot high up in the division without an impressive victory. A climb back up is certainly still possible, but it definitely hurts to lose progress due to inactivity rather than an actual defeat.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 139 fight card TONIGHT (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.
To see who else is fighting at UFC Denver click here.
At UFC Fight Night 139, Chan Sung Jung and Yair Rodriguez will throw down in the main event. Which man will make a successful return to the Octagon?