UFC 163 August 3, 2013 Lightweights: Jose Aldo vs Chan Sung Jung By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: After a trio of losses for Brazilian champions (first Machida/Shogun, then Dos Santos, then Silva), Jose Aldo is now arguably the best fighter in Brazil. And this weekend the UFC is anchoring a somewhat thin card on his upcoming title defense in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 163. Enter the unexpected challenger, Chan Sung Jung, who will become the first Korean ever to challenge for a UFC title. Nicknamed the “Korean Zombie” due to his fearless forward-pressing fighting style, he made a controversial choice for featherweight title contention, but has certainly not disappointed fans during his UFC career. Despite Jung’s two fight upset streak and an incredible 4 Fight Night Bonuses in just 3 UFC appearances, he comes in as a massive underdog to the champ. The line favors the champ Aldo at -750, with the underdog Jung +525 on the comeback. Let’s look at the numbers to see if this is a reasonable line based on the numbers. Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Matchup: With some conflicting reports Jung will come in either similarly sized, or up to two inches taller than Aldo, and will most definitely have a reach advantage. On the downside for Jung, he’s been out of action for well over a year, putting him into the danger range for Ring Rust, which drops win rates down to the near 40% level. He’s also fighting a Brazilian in Brazil, which lately has not gone well for foreign born challengers. But perhaps the Zombie-like mentality of Jung has kept him motivated in the gym, and will prevent him from being rattled by the Brazilian fans who he cannot understand. Standup Game: Anyone expecting to see a statistical beat down by one of the pound for pound best may be disappointed here. The striking stats for Aldo and Jung are fairly even. Jung has advantages in power head striking accuracy and overall significant striking pace. If he can use his reach and cardio effectively, these are considerable assets. But Aldo has advantages of his own, specifically in knockdown power and striking defense. Head striking defense for Jung is not only worse than Aldo’s, is actually worse than average. Remembering the back and forth war he had with Leonard Garcia, Jung needs to have tightened up his defense if he hopes to stand and trade with Aldo for long. Ground Game: Neither fighter attempts frequent takedowns, but here Jung has the better success rate. What’s more important is that both fighters have very good takedown defense, meaning it’s not likely that they will end up on the ground until perhaps some fatigue sets in (for Aldo). Once on the ground, Aldo brings the credentials of a BJJ black belt into the cage, even though we have rarely seen much use of this aspect of his game. Jung, while without the same pedigree of grappling, has won some spectacular submission of the night bonuses in his short UFC career. While on paper a Brazilian champion with a BJJ black belt defending on his home turf may seem like invisible force, once again analysis shows that it’s not the toss up the betting line suggests. Either fighter being submitted is unlikely. Fight Prediction: This fight should stay standing thanks to solid takedown defense for both fighters. While Jung surprised me with good performance statistics, the context of his opponents must be accounted for. His striking stats may be inflated by his battles with Garcia (who statistically has terrible striking defense), while Jung’s cardio helped him through his most recent opponent. Dustin Poirier. Aldo remains the more dangerous fighter out of the gate with skill advantages in basically every category. He can mix up his strikes, work the legs, and has the kind of explosive power that makes for a perfect foil to any straight-ahead fighter. Jung’s only chance to win this will be to use his range and size to score points, then grind Aldo down along the fence. Late in the fight he might get more openings if Aldo is unable to maintain his stamina. But these are all big “ifs.” More than likely at some point in the first couple rounds, Jung will walk into some strikes that will rock him and set up a finish by the champ. Reed’s Pick: Aldo by TKO Reed’s Recommended Play: Aldo has a great finishing rate, though it has dropped since moving to the larger UFC cage. But he still has the diverse repertoire of dangerous attacks that has made his highlight reel so entertaining. Unfortunately for Jung, what made him know as the “Zombie” could be his undoing here. A straight play on Aldo at -750 is not recommended at all. If anything I’d consider Jung by decision at +1300. But Aldo by TKO finish at -180 makes for the best bet given Aldo’s precision and power combined with Jung’s willingness to take a punch. In addition to being a good matchup for Aldo to get the finish, it also might be a candidate for Fight of the Night if Jung is able to battle for at least a couple rounds.