Chan Sung Jung (Korean Zombie) last interview before heading to Brazil for UFC 163
(Interview translated from MFIGHT)
How are you currently feeling before going to Brazil?
I don’t feel anything. I am worried about having to fight in Brazil, but I don’t think it will be much different from my other matches. I might feel differently after arriving in Rio de Janeiro, but I feel the same now.
You’re coming back from a 15-month hiatus. Honestly, many fans are a bit worried. Why did you decide to take the title shot?
As everyone knows, there is no guarantee of getting a title shot in the UFC. The main reason was that my goal was always Jose Aldo after I became a featherweight. I have analyzed him for a long time. I have always thought I could beat him. This is why I was able to quickly adjust to this opponent change.
You are planning to strike with Jose Aldo. Do you have any counters planned?
I have trained lot of combinations and special attacks. A lot of people including TEAM POSSE, Jae Sun Lee, and Doo Won Seo have helped me prepare for Aldo. I threw everything out that was useless, and have trained really hard on everything that works.
You are coming off a 15-month layoff, how is your physical condition?
I got surgery on my left shoulder. It has not affected my training at all, other than feeling some pain when it rains (laughs). I can’t do anything about that. I have some minor injures, but every fighter has those. I don’t believe it will affect my performance. If I can’t beat Aldo in my current condition, I will never be able to beat Jose Aldo.
Training hard is important for a fighter’s confidence. Have you trained enough?
I feel sorry for Ricardo Lamas when saying this, but training 40 days for Aldo made me learn more than training 3 months for Ricardo. I do not think I am a talented fighter, but just someone who gets confidence from training. I am filled with confidence.
The match will take place in Brazil. There must be a lot of pressure on you.
I believe I’ll be fine once I’m in the arena. I get sharper when the fans boo me. I am a bit worried about whether I will be able to adapt to Brazil. I have heard Brazil is very dangerous and that the “public peace” is fragile.
The flight is extremely long and the journey to the fight is equally as long. It seems adapting to Brazil will be very important.
I was told it takes 30 hours just to get to Brazil from South Korea. I almost go crazy on a 10 hour flight; I can’t even imagine a 30 hour flight. Luckily, I am on a business class flight (laughs). There is no Koreatown in Rio, so we will be staying in São Paulo. Food is very important, I plan to eat Korean food and prepare in São Paulo. We plan to head to Rio de Janeiro on the 30th or 31st.
You will have to stand alone very soon. Did you sense anything in training?
Honestly, I changed everything. There are things I am good at and bad at; I believe my best ability is to execute what is important in the actual fight. One of the bad things about training was that there was no one to push me extra when I was extremely fatigued. This is another subject, but I believe my past team (Korean Top Team) will also be cheering for me.
You said that you had analyzed Jose Aldo for a long time. Do you see any weaknesses?
A lot of fans and experts have pointed out Aldo’s cardio. I have seen Aldo’s pace drop considerably after the 4th round. This is a fact that is almost common knowledge. I plan to pressure him, but everyone gets tired. Another thing is my reach advantage. If nothing seems to work, I plan to go to my earlier style.
This is only the second time you have fought a 5 rounder. Do you have a strategy to manage the rounds?
I did all my training to fit a 5 rounder. I did a lot of running. The most important aspect is the mental side once it goes to the 3rd or 4th round. I can’t give any proof of this, but there is no way I will shrink mentally when an opponent I have thought about for 7 years is finally in front of me. I will trust that thought and enter the octagon.
A lot of people are saying that Jose Aldo is a large favorite. How does that affect you?
I will agree to some degree. Aldo has always been perfect, but those words just give me strength. It’s always more fun to beat an opponent you aren’t suppose to beat than to beat someone you should beat. I want to be that “protagonist”.
What is the biggest “weapon” that gives you confidence?
I have prepared technically and mentally. I can’t 100% predict my mental state, but Aldo will not make me mentally weaker.
Recently, Anderson Silva lost in shocking fashion. What did you feel when you heard the news?
That even Anderson Silva is a human. Aldo is no different. They are both humans.
One of the biggest factors, other than the opponent, is that this fight will take place in Brazil. Aldo has said he feels 100 times stronger in Brazil.
There’s nothing I can do about that. I just have to fight through it. It would be nice to have the fight in Korea, but that doesn’t mean I’ll let this opportunity slip by. I have always thought this is part of fighting to become a legitimate champion. I fought Mark Hominick in Canada, and fought many times in America. The fans booing are not something I think about. I plan to concentrate on the task at hand.
What was the hardest part of being out for so long?
Not being able to fight was the hardest. I really had a lot of fun for 5 months after the Dustin Poirier fight. It was fun, but my passion for MMA still stayed the same. I could barely contain myself after seeing fellow Korean fighters having so much success. Everyone is saying the layoff was too long, but I really believe it is to my advantage. It became a huge motivation. I believe that contained emotion will be able to explode soon.
How much fight money are you receiving for this fight?
I will be making 20,000 dollars to show, and another 20,000 dollars if I win. I do not get any PPV points. After 2 more fights, I will be able to negotiate my contract. Hopefully, I will be in a good position when that happens.
How much does your girlfriend help in preparing for a fight?
Honestly, without my girlfriend I would not be in such good shape. She takes care of my diet, household chores, and even the finances for my gym. I actually let her borrow 11,000 dollars yesterday. I wasn’t nervous at all. Is there a woman in this world you wouldn’t feel nervous about giving that much money to (laughs)?
Will you propose to her after a victory in the octagon?
I don’t think the cage is the right place for us. She has some personality flaws to fix first (laughs). I do plan on proposing soon.
This is a fight that will have a lasting impact on Korean MMA history. Do you have any “vows” you want to make?
I believe I am a very popular fighter, but I do not make a lot of money. There is definitely a problem with that. MMA was at its peak in South Korea when Hong Man Choi fought Fedor Emelianenko. Hong Man Choi was a huge star in South Korea; there isn’t anyone like that anymore. TV ratings were 10% in those days, now they are barely 1-2%. South Korea needs a star like that for MMA to flourish. I am lacking in a lot of ways, but hopefully I can become a star with the way I fight.
Do you have any fears about losing to Jose Aldo?
That is the same for every fight. I can talk with confidence, but a fight is a fight. It’s possible that I lose disgracefully by a one-punch knockout. I do think that this sport can be so harsh, but that is the life of a professional fighter. I am just concentrating to fight my best. I can be knocked out, but so can my opponent. I only think about victory in my head.
What is the worst scenario?
In regards to the fight, it would be to get knocked out in front of everyone. Right now, I am worrying about the environment in Brazil. I have been hearing a lot about the public safety issues plaguing Brazil. I was told that I couldn’t even walk around at night. I am a bit worried that something might happen before the actual fight.
Anything you want to say to your fans?
I wonder what kind of day 8/4 will be in South Korea. I have been listening to Yoon Sang’s “Running”. The lyrics talk about how for an ordinary person even hearing the sounds of clapping is foreign. I am hearing a lot of clapping. I will definitely win and return back home.