UFC 273: Alexander Volkanovski won’t underestimate ‘Korean zombie’ Chan Sung Jung

I’m up there with the greatest – Volkanovski

There was a moment at UFC 266 that represented all of Alexander Volkanovski’s fights.

As Volkanovski writhed on the floor, desperately trying to free his neck, the lights began to dim and the sound of 19,000 fans in Las Vegas faded.

The 33-year-old was seconds away from passing out and losing the fight. It was then that he thought of his family.

“I was like, ‘Oh no, right? It can’t be that.’ And then I thought, “Am I not bringing this belt back to my family? I can’t come away with a loss,” Volkanovski told BBC Sport.

“I kept fighting and with my resistance and durability his arms finally started gassing and opening.

“I’m glad it happened because it represents who I am. Everyone who knows me knows that’s who I am and now the world needs to see it.

“I’m a family man, right? I’m like, ‘Hey, you’re here to work, earn money and be successful for your family. Go ahead and do what you have to do and make sure you don’t go home empty-handed.'”

Volkanovski retained his title via unanimous decision that night and is now set to defend it against “Korean zombie” Chan Sung Jung in the main event of UFC 273 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Volkanovski was caught in Ortega’s guillotine choke for nearly 20 seconds

“Being a favorite doesn’t matter to me”

With 10 back-to-back UFC victories and notable victories over Ortega, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway twice, Volkanovski is a strong pre-fight favorite against Jung.

Despite this, he will not underestimate his South Korean opponent who, at 35, has accumulated a solid experience.

Jung, who is fourth in the UFC featherweight rankings, was named Holloway’s replacement in January.

His nickname derives from his ability to keep moving forward aggressively zombie-like, despite taking heavy damage.

” I do not care, [being the favourite] it’s MMA,” Volkanovski said.

“I will always be a safe bet for people because they know that I am durable, resilient and very complete.”

“Obviously he’s known as Zombie, right? So it’s gonna be exciting and a crowd pleaser. You’re gonna see old Zombie trying to chop my head off but I’m not gonna do it. leave and make him pay.”

“No one in UFC history has won a belt that way”

Aljamain Sterling
Aljamain Sterling was visibly emotional following the disqualification that resulted in his victory over Petr Yan last March

The co-main event of UFC 273 has another title on the line as bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling defends his crown in a highly anticipated rematch against interim champion Petr Yan.

US pound sterling won the title in controversial circumstances last March while Yan suffered a disqualification for landing a deliberately illegal knee.

It turned out that a member of Yan’s corner team mistakenly told him to throw the illegal strike in the fourth round.

Russia’s Yan will face Sterling without his coaching staff after being denied visas to enter the United States due to sanctions stemming from the invasion of Ukraine.

Yan’s access remains unchanged under a three-year visa he was previously granted.

“In UFC history, you’ve never seen someone win the belt that way, but they still think they’re a champion – it’s nonsense,” Yan said.

“Let’s wait to see Saturday if he [Sterling] is a worthy rival or not – right now he’s not behaving like a worthy rival.”

Meanwhile, Sterling disagrees, saying: “I felt like a champion when I beat Cory Sandhagen – we should have fought for the belt. So going into that fight [against Yan]I felt like the champion so no one can ever tell me you’re an unqualified champion.”

“The People’s Main Event”

Khamzat Chimaev and Darren Till
The close friendship between Khamzat Chimaev and Darren Till has led fans to call them the ‘Smesh Bros’

However, arguably the most eagerly awaited fight is the welterweight bout between Khamzat Chimaev and Gilbert Burns.

It’s been dubbed “the people’s main event” by fans online, who are excited about the prospect of seeing one of The best talents of the UFC, in Chimaevtesting himself against a seasoned opponent in Burns.

Russian-born Chimaev, who immigrated to Sweden aged 18, has built a formidable reputation since his UFC debut in 2020, finishing his four opponents in dominant fashion and is considered a champion in the making.

In recent months, the 27-year-old has struck up a close friendship with Britain’s Darren Till, which has been documented on social media, earning the affection of MMA fans.

Till will be in the Swede’s corner for the fight against Brazilian Burns, who is 35, ranked second in the UFC welterweight rankings and a former title challenger.

“I’m the one testing this guy and stopping the hype train,” Burns said.

“I like being the underdog. His wrestling and ground control is very good and he has good striking, but I don’t see a monster – I see a human being.”

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