Looking back on his UFC career, The Korean Zombie has no regrets about any of it.
In August, Zombie, real name Chan Sung Jung, walked away from the sport following a knockout loss against Max Holloway in the UFC Singapore headliner. Still considered to be one of the best featherweights in the world, the 36-year-old has plenty of gas left in the tank, but after his devastating loss, Zombie felt it was best to hang up his gloves before enduring further unnecessary damage.
“The funny thing about this fight is I remember every single second of the fight,” Zombie said recently on The MMA Hour. “From the moment I got dropped, every single punch I threw, every single punch that hit me. In the second round when I got dropped, I saw the punch coming, I thought I dodged it, but I was dropped. I was like, ‘What hit me?’ In the first round I was wobbled a little bit and in the third round everybody saw I got knocked down.
“After experiencing these moments, I felt that I don’t have that chin anymore. I’ve been having brain damage over the years, so I don’t have that chin anymore. I’m not going to say any names but there are fighter who, when they were young, used to have a really good chin, but then as they get older they get brain damage, their chin gets weaker, and they get frequently dropped. If the fighter fails to acknowledge the fact that they got old and their chin got weaker, the end isn’t as lovely. I didn’t want to become that fighter, so I decided to retire at that moment.”
Fight fans were first introduced to Korean Zombie at WEC 48 in 2010 when he went toe-to-toe with Leonard Garcia in a Fight of the Year contender. A year later, he would make his official UFC debut.
Zombie quickly became a favorite inside the Octagon thanks to his balls-to-the-wall style of fighting that saw him score wins over the likes of Dustin Poirier, Renato Moicano, Frankie Edgar, and Dan Ige. And though he never claimed UFC gold in his 16-year career, Zombie will always be remembered as a fighter who’s top priority was to put on a show.
“I definitely wanted to show the crowd the classic Zombie,” Jung said of his final fight against Holloway. “If the fans watched my first fight in the WEC, that’s how I fought originally. I kind of wanted to put on a show for the fans and go back to the old version of me and put on a show. I kind of went out the way I came in this organization. I’m happy the fight went as it did.”
Zombie walked into his scrap with Max Holloway treating it like any other fight. Once he laid down his gloves, he couldn’t help, but be overcome with emotion as he looked back on his 13-year run with the promotion.
“Before I put the gloves down, I didn’t really feel anything, but after I put the gloves down on the canvas and bowed down right besides the gloves, it was an emotion that I’ve never felt before,” Zombie said. “Being at the end of a chapter in your life is something that’s very unexplainable. At the same time, I felt gratitude towards the UFC and the UFC gloves because it gave me one heck of a life, so that’s what I was feeling.”
Korean Zombie leaves the door open for boxing
Had Korean Zombie left Singapore with a victory, he would have lobbied for the UFC’s return to South Korea in hopes of headlining against Yair Rodriguez or Brian Ortega.
Despite the missed opportunity, he has no regrets over the way his career came to a close.
“The Max Holloway fight, because everything was perfect, the timing, my opponent being Max Holloway, the audience, the crowd, the love that they showed me,” Zombie said. “I’ve had my share of fights in life but this fight is the only fight that I have zero regret after the fight is finished, even though I lost via knockout. This is the only fight that I have completely zero regrets, so I would choose my last fight as the most memorable one.”
Though his run in MMA is over, he left the door open for a potential debut inside the squared circle, following in the footsteps of fighters like Anderson Silva, Tyron Woodley, Nate Diaz, and Cris Cyborg.
“My heart and every part of my body says I could totally go and fight again, but I think it’s time for me to acknowledge that as far as MMA goes, I’ll probably not be able to fight again,” Zombie said. “I think it’s time for me to acknowledge that.
“If I get the opportunity, maybe boxing? A lot of MMA fighters try out boxing so why not me? Boxing would be fun for me” (h/t MMA Fighting).