The situation around Edgar, 38, doesn’t even sound real. Technically, he has two fights booked — in two different weight classes. He is scheduled to face “The Korean Zombie” in Saturday’s featherweight main event at UFC Fight Night in Busan, South Korea, and he’s scheduled to face Cory Sandhagen, at bantamweight, on Jan. 25.
Where this all ends up is anyone’s guess.
Edgar’s team has been asking him to move to 135 pounds for years, and as of a couple of weeks ago, that was finally the plan. Now that’s no longer a guarantee.
Edgar (22-7-1), a former UFC lightweight champion, is highly ranked at 145 pounds, and the division has a brand-new champion in Alex Volkanovski. If Edgar scores a big win on Saturday, would he nix the Sandhagen bout and stay at featherweight?
For the record, our guess is Edgar will still wind up at bantamweight in 2020. Either way, if we needed a reminder of how quickly things can change in MMA, this final headline bout of 2019 does the trick.
Jung (15-5) originally was to face Brian Ortega on Saturday, but when Ortega pulled out with an injury, on came Edgar. And even though Ortega is ranked No. 3 in the ESPN men’s featherweight rankings and Edgar is down at No. 9, this weekend is still an opportunity for the eighth-ranked Jung to elevate his profile in the division.
The 32-year-old (15-5) is coming off a spectacular 58-second knockout of Renato Moicano in June, and late last year he was literally one second away from beating Yair Rodriguez before Rodriguez produced one of the most bizarre knockouts in UFC history.
This weekend’s event is in Jung’s native South Korea, and he would be firmly in title contention with a win.
Edgar deserves a lot of credit for keeping this all intact. His willingness to jump at this opportunity is no surprise at this point — he has a history of that type of willingness — but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t admire it.
By the numbers
88: Rounds fought in the Octagon by Edgar, a UFC record. His 7 hours, 12 minutes, 33 seconds of fight time is the most in promotion history … by a full 40 minutes! (Demian Maia has the second-most cage time, at 6:32:06.)
6: Consecutive main events for Jung, including this one.
1,559: Significant strikes in the UFC by Edgar, second most in promotion history behind Max Holloway‘s 2,071. Edgar has landed 2,195 strikes overall, placing him third, behind Nate Diaz (2,256) and Holloway (2,247).
68: Takedowns landed in the UFC by Edgar, tying him with Nik Lentz for the most.
Source: ESPN Stats & Information
A look back
Five vs. five
Chan Sung Jung’s most recent results
Win: Renato Moicano (TKO1, June 22, 2019)
Loss: Yair Rodriguez (KO5, Nov. 10, 2018 5)
Win: Dennis Bermudez (KO1, Feb. 4, 2017)
Loss: Jose Aldo (TKO4, Aug. 3, 2013)
Win: Dustin Poirier (TechSUB4, May 15, 2012)
Frankie Edgar’s most recent results
Loss: Max Holloway (UD, July 27, 2019)
Win: Cub Swanson (UD, April 21, 2018)
Loss: Brian Ortega (KO1, March 3, 2018)
Win: Yair Rodriguez (TKO2, May 13, 2017)
Win: Jeremy Stephens (UD, Nov. 12, 2016)
“There’s no gimmes in this sport, especially a guy like ‘The Korean Zombie,’ with his fighting style. I’m expecting a war. I’m preparing for a war. That’s the kind of fighter I am.”
— Edgar, speaking to MMA Fighting
The night “The Korean Zombie” returned with a fury:
Had Yair Rodriguez not landed that ridiculous no-look elbow against Jung in late 2018, we might have seen him fight for a title this year. Jung hasn’t fought a ton since an extended layoff due to mandatory military service, but he has looked very good when he has been in there. Edgar is a tough out for anyone, but I don’t see him being able to wrestle Jung for 25 minutes. Korean Zombie via decision.
What else to look for … beyond the main event
The rest of the card, co-main event down:
ESPN+, 5 a.m. ET
Light heavyweight: Volkan Oezdemir vs. Aleksandar Rakić
Men’s featherweight: Dooho Choi vs. Charles Jourdain
Light heavyweight: Da Un Jung vs. Mike Rodriguez
Middleweight: Jun Yong Park vs. Marc-Andre Barriault
Men’s bantamweight: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Liu Pingyuan
ESPN, 2 a.m.
Heavyweight: Ciryl Gane vs. Tanner Boser
Men’s featherweight: Seungwoo Choi vs. Suman Mokhtarian
Lightweight: Dong Hyun Ma vs. Omar Morales
Men’s flyweight: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Matt Schnell
Men’s bantamweight: Raoni Barcelos vs. Said Nurmagomedov
Strawweight: Miranda Granger vs. Amanda Lemos
Men’s bantamweight: Alateng Heili vs. Ryan Benoit
Why the co-main event is second to none
Rakic, who is No. 10 in ESPN’s light heavyweight rankings, is riding a 12-fight winning streak after losing his pro debut in 2011. Ten of his wins have been by stoppage.
Eighth-ranked Oezdemir (16-4) has 13 wins by stoppage, all but one by KO/TKO. Last year, he unsuccessfully challenged Daniel Cormier for the 205-pound title.
Nickname of the (middle of the) night
“The Korean Zombie” is one of seven South Korean fighters on this card, and of the other six, all but one can give Jung a run for his money in the nickname game. Dooho Choi is “The Korean Superboy.” Jun Yong Park is “The Iron Turtle.” Kyung Ho Kang is “Mr. Perfect.” Seungwoo Choi is “Sting.” And Dong Hyun Ma is “The Maestro.”
But let’s give a round of applause to Da Un Jung, who refuses to follow the pack. He’s not into homages to characters from “Seinfeld” or 1980s WWF and apparently doesn’t believe “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” He has no nickname. We’ll call him The Korean Contrarian.
Nickname watch, part 2
There are two fighters on the card nicknamed “Danger.”
A couple of undercard offerings from ESPN Stats & Information:
“Danger” Granger is one of three undefeated fighters in the prelims. Lightweight Omar Morales, making his UFC debut, puts his 8-0 record up against Dong Hyun Ma. And 5-0 Ciryl Gane of France faces Tanner Boser of Canada.
If Ciryl Gane wins by submission, he will become the ninth fighter to start a UFC career with three consecutive submissions. The list includes Royce Gracie, Nate Diaz and Demian Maia. Gane also could tie for the longest active submission streak, and Matt Schnell can achieve the feat as well.