JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Chan Sung Jung knows this may be his last chance.
“The Korean Zombie” first challenged for the UFC featherweight title in 2013. On Saturday, Jung will be back with a shot at winning the belt against champion Alexander Volkanovski in the main event of UFC 273 at VyStar. Veterans Memorial Arena.
ESPN ranks Volkanovski as the No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter. At featherweight, Volkanovski is ranked No. 1 and Jung is No. 9. Max Holloway, whom Volkanovski has beaten twice in title fights, was Volkanovski’s original opponent before withdrawing due to a wound.
Volkanovski (23-1) has won 10 straight to start his UFC career and 20 in a row overall. The Australian-born fighter defended his title against Brian Ortega via unanimous decision at UFC 266 last September and now has two successful title defenses. Volkanovski, 33, defeated Holloway to claim the belt at UFC 245 in December 2019.
Jung (17-6) has won three of his last four games. The South Korean-born fighter is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Dan Ige last June. Jung, 35, will overtake Dan Henderson on Saturday as the UFC fighter with the most time between title bouts. Aldo defeated Jung at UFC 163 on August 3, 2013.
In the co-main event, Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan will unify the UFC bantamweight title. Sterling won the title by disqualification when Yan hit him with an illegal knee at UFC 259 in March 2021. Yan is the interim champion, following a win over Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 last October.
Sterling (20-3), a 32-year-old New Yorker, has won six straight. Yan (16-2), a 29-year-old Russian who trains in Thailand, is ESPN’s No. 6 ranked pound-for-pound fighter. At bantamweight, Yan and Sterling are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.
Also on the card, former title challenger Gilbert Burns and scorching undefeated prospect Khamzat Chimaev will meet in what could be a welterweight title eliminator. Additionally, Mackenzie Dern will face Tecia Torres in a women’s strawweight matchup, top prospect Ian Garry will meet Darian Weeks, and Aspen Ladd and Raquel Pennington will square off in a women’s bantamweight bout.
Follow Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap each fight, or watch the fights on ESPN+.
Current bout: Heavyweight: Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1, 8-7 UFC, -110) vs. Jared Vanderaa (12-7, 1-3 UFC, -110)
Strawweight: Piera Rodriguez (8-0, 1-0 UFC) def. Kay Hansen (7-6, 1-3 UFC) via unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Hansen had great early success with his wrestling. But that ended up forcing Rodriguez to use takedowns and grapples to secure victory as the fight continued.
Rodriguez picked up a unanimous decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in his UFC debut against Hansen. Known as a striker, Rodriguez trained in Los Angeles with famed wrestling trainer Kenny Johnson and the results were evident.
Hansen got a first-round takedown, landed a decent pitch and pound, and finished the first five minutes working for an arm-triangle choke. Rodriguez got takedowns in the second and third rounds, and Rodriguez picked up Hansen in the second and worked for a rear-end choke.
Rodriguez, 29, is the former LFA women’s strawweight champion. The Venezuela native made her UFC debut with a victory in Dana White’s Contender Series last October. Hansen, a 22-year-old California native, has lost three straight after a four-game winning streak.
Hansen missed weight Friday, hitting 118.5 pounds, 2.5 pounds over the non-title women’s strawweight limit.
Should Dillashaw take the winner of Sterling-Yan 2?
TJ Dillashaw is here backstage at #UFC273. He says he plans to fight winner Yan against Sterling.
— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) April 9, 2022
Men’s Bantamweight: Julio Arce (18-5, 5-3 UFC) def. Daniel Santos (10-2, 0-1 UFC) via unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Santos entered the cage on his UFC debut and never backed down for three rounds, firing every punch with significant power. Faced with this aggression, Arce spent 15 minutes moving left, right, back and forward to crack Santos again and again in a display of veteran mastery that earned him the nod on all three boards. edge (30-27, 30- 27, 29-28).
Arce, 32 and a New York native, has won two of his last three games, losing to rising star Song Yadong. He was patient and elusive, dodging most of what Santos threw and scoring it with a steady stream of forehands, straight left hands and high kicks. One downside: Arce missed the bantamweight limit at Friday’s weigh-in at 136.5 pounds.
Santos, a 27-year-old Brazilian, saw a two-game winning streak come to an end. He was aggressive but too wild with punches and spinning attacks, landing only 17 of 70 in round one and losing speed from there.
Still to come:
Men’s Featherweight Championship: Alexander Volkanovski (c) (23-1, 10-0 UFC, -700) vs. Chan Sung Jung (17-6, 7-3 UFC, +500)
Men’s Bantamweight Championship: Aljamain Sterling (c) (20-3, 12-3 UFC, +350) vs. Petr Yan (ic) (16-2, 8-1 UFC, -450)
Welterweight: Gilbert Burns (20-4, 13-4 UFC, +370) vs. Khamzat Chimaev (10-0, 4-0 UFC, -490)
Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern (11-2, 6-2 UFC, -115) vs. Tecia Torres (13-5, 9-5 UFC, -105)
Lightweight: Mark O. Madsen (11-0, 3-0 UFC, +105) vs. Vinc Pichel (14-2, 7-2 UFC, 1-25)
Welterweight: Ian Garry (8-0, 1-0 UFC, -400) vs. Darian Weeks (5-1, 0-1 UFC, +310)
Heavyweight: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-3, 6-3 UFC, -160) vs. Marcin Tybura (22-7, 9-6 UFC, +135)
Women’s bantamweight: Aspen Ladd (9-2, 4-2 UFC, +155) vs. Raquel Pennington (13-9, 10-5 UFC, -180)
Welterweight: Mickey Gall (7-4, 6-4 UFC, +160) vs. Mike Malott (7-1-1, 0-0 UFC, -190)
(c) = defending champion | (ic) = interim champion