Volkanovski vs Korean Zombie will headline UFC 273, the UFC's pay-per-view offering in the month of April. The matchup will feature reigning featherweight king, Alexander Volkanovski, as he attempts to defend his title for a third consecutive time.
Despite being ranked fourth in the division and splitting his last two fights, Chan Sung Jung (17-6) landed the coveted championship opportunity after Max Holloway was removed from a planned trilogy fight with Volkanovski (23-1) due to an injury. Good fortunes for the South Korean also ends up being a win for fans because this fight could turn out to be a high octane war on April 9.
Volkanovski vs Korean Zombie: What you need to know
- Time:UFC 273 kicks of with the prelims at 6 pm ET on ESPN and streaming service ESPN+
- Cost: The main card pay-per-view, which costs US $74.99, begins at 10 pm ET exclusively on ESPN+
- Odds: The current FanDuel betting odds have Volkanovski as a sizable -435 favorite with Chan Sung Jung as a +330 underdog
- Tickets: A location and venue for the event have not yet been made official
Can a Zombie overcome technical striking?
Both Volkanovski and Jung are two of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC's 145-pound division. However, as the fight game saying proclaims, "There are levels to this" and the Australian is at a higher level than Jung. However, the WEC veteran does have certain striking intangibles that could make things a little closer than they may seem on the surface.
- Volks technical expertise: "The Great" is an elite level striker who offers up a variety of attacks and does it proficiently. In three of his last four fights he landed his significant strikes at a 50% or higher rate. That is impressive considering he did that against two former champions in Holloway and Jose Aldo. That could spell trouble for Jung who is not known for top-level striking defense.
- Zombie striking: While "Korean Zombie" is pretty skilled with his fists and feet, the greatest facets of his stand-up game are his punching power and durable chin. Those qualities can often be more than enough to beat 99% of the division. But the champion is a 1% talent that has outpointed a highly skilled striker in Holloway twice. Jung will need to bring more than power and toughness on the feet at UFC 273.
Aussie wrestling versus Korean jiu-jitsu
Jung and Volkanovski are most known for their striking abilities, however, both are far better grapplers than they are given credit for. Especially Jung who has quite a few submission wins on his record. It's why this fight is one that will be highly competitive and entertaining wherever it goes.
- Jung's jiu-jitsu: When fans think of Jung, they picture him in all-out wars on the feet and putting opponents to sleep with is fists. However, the one-time title challenger actually has more submission wins than knockouts. He is very slick on the mat, and is one of the few fighters in UFC history to score a victory with a twister.
- Australian wrestling: Volanovski is often praised for his striking, and understandably so, but his wrestling is highly undervalued. He has scored two or more takedowns in six of his 10 Octagon appearances and can shut them down just as well as he can get them. Furthermore, when takedown he can get right back up, or has the fight IQ to avoid fight ending subs for world-class grapplers like he did against Brian Ortega at UFC 266.
Can Chan Sung Jung's will and durability balance the scales?
Intangibles can play a major role in a big fight. However, when there is an obvious favorite, they can also help even the odds to give an underdog a fighting chance. "Korean Zombie" will need his unique gifts and then some to beat Volkanovski in April.
- The Zombie's iron will: Jung is a beloved figure in MMA because of his incomparable toughness and heart. He is never out of a fight and you have to put him to sleep to beat him. It is a special quality few fighters have and it's what has made him a star in the division over the last decade. It can't be underestimated.
- An elite fight intellect: Volkanovski is not just an elite featherweight, he is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, period. A key reason for that is his fight IQ. He has well above average fighting intelligence and he has proven it time and again. He doesn't need to be tougher to win fights, he just out thinks his foes.
The bottom line: The champ is a big favorite in this fight for good reason. He gets the checkmark in most of the head-to-head comparisons, on paper. But what makes fight sports so special is it doesn't take much for a world-class fighter to be stunned by a talented underdog. And "Korean Zombie" has all the qualities necessary to stun the world at UFC 273.