UFC 273: Volkanovski defends featherweight belt against Zombie
Alexander Volkanovski has quietly become one of the greatest featherweights in UFC history.
His last four victories have come against top contender Brian Ortega and longtime weight class stalwarts Max Holloway (twice) and Jose Aldo. Now, having finally started to get his due, Volkanovski has a chance to add what he calls another “absolute killer” to his resume.
Volkanovski (23-1) will defend his featherweight title in the main event of UFC 273 on Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville when he takes on Chan Sung Jung (17-6), better known as The Korean Zombie.
“It’s not really a new face, but a familiar face,” said Volkanovski, the under-770 favorite according to FanDuel Sportsbook. “He’s been there forever. He’s a guy I always wanted to fight, I always thought I was going to fight. Zombie has been at the top of the game since the start of this featherweight division.
“It’s a legacy fight. I deleted a lot of captions and I want to keep deleting captions. He is definitely one of them. He deserved this place, he definitely won it.
The same goes for Volkanovski, a 33-year-old Australian who is 10-0 since his UFC debut in 2016. He knocked out Aldo in 2019 to earn a title shot at Holloway later this year. -the. He upset Holloway for the belt and defeated him again seven months later to retain his spot atop the division. His most recent fight was a unanimous decision win over Ortega last September.
“I fight absolute killers,” Volkanovski said. “I want to keep knocking these guys out.”
Jung is far from a walk in the park. The 35-year-old South Korean has been in the UFC featherweight class for over a decade. But it will be his first title fight since losing to Aldo by technical knockout in 2013 after injuring his shoulder.
Jung was out of the Octagon for nearly four years after that loss, partly to heal and mostly to fulfill a military obligation back home. He has won four of six fights since returning to the UFC in 2017.
Jung called the opportunity a “dream” and touted Volkanovski for being the best he had come across in terms of “fighting IQ”. Speaking through an interpreter, Jung said he was more experienced and less nervous than he was almost nine years ago.
Volkanovski and Holloway were originally scheduled to compete in a trilogy bout at UFC 272 last month. But shortly after the match went public in January, an undisclosed injury forced Holloway out. Several featherweight contenders volunteered to replace Holloway, but Jung eventually landed the spot.
“I’m happy for him that he got a title shot,” Volkanovski said. “It will probably be his last chance for the title. I don’t mean that I look behind him like I’m arrogant, but where I am right now, I don’t see myself being beaten.
“We gave him a solid kick, but that was it. That’s as far as this favor goes because I’m going to take that away from him.
The co-main event features UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling (20-3) defending his belt against Petr Yan (16-2). They were involved in a controversial disqualification just over a year ago. Yan was disqualified for an illegal knee after dominating the fight.
Sterling, a plus-360 underdog according to FanDuel Sportsbook, just had surgery to replace a disc in his neck.
Other fights on the main card, available via pay-per-view: Gilbert Burns (20-4) takes on Khamzat Chimaev (10-0); Mackenzie Dern (11-2) takes on Tecia Torres (13-5); and Vinc Pichel (14-2) takes on Mark Madsen (11-0).
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