Chan Sung Jung has been among MMA’s most popular featherweights in recent years, dating back to his 2010 “Fight of the Year” performance against Leonard Garcia, for the now-defunct World Extreme Cagefighting promotion.
He lost a controversial split decision that night, but Jung’s straight forward fighting style, which saw him walking through Leonard’s punches seemingly impervious to pain, would make him something of a cult figure among fight fans.
Since then, “The Korean Zombie,” as he came to be known, gained a technical acumen to match his physical gifts (and grit), becoming a legitimate contender in the division.
Last week, it was revealed that Jung will miss the next two years to fulfill his commitment to South Korea’s military. But he’s again looking to turn a negative into a positive — saying the time away may even benefit his cage-fighting career.
“I think this may extend my career,” Jung tells MMAFighting.com in a recent interview, “because it gives me some much needed time to heal. I’ll have time to work on my skills without pushing myself to the limit, which is necessary when training for a fight.”
The 27 year old Jung, who is 13-2 in a seven year MMA career, had struggled with injuries of late, including a shoulder injury which forced him out of this month’s UFC Fight Night 53.
Still, he also admitted he had some regrets about putting off his military service, which is mandatory for all “able-bodied” South Korean men.
“That’s easy to say now,” he says. “When you’re in your early 20s you don’t always have the best judgement. Especially when it comes to serving in the military, it’s easy to put it off.”
Jung clarified that he will serve in a government office position, but did not know any further details. He thanked his fans for what he called “an outpouring of support” since he was called to service.