The people came from all sides of Chan Sung Jung who asks that, please, you refer to him in conversation as “Zombie.” The UFC featherweight contender, whose “Korean Zombie” nickname is one of the best in sports, is demonstrating a peculiar talent of his on a South Korean television show.
It’s like something out of David Letterman’s old bit, Stupid Human Tricks. Zombie has taught himself how to refrain from blinking.
And so the people on the show come at him from all sides, from the front and the back and from his left and his right. They act as if they’re going to do one thing and suddenly spin and wave a hand in his face.
All the while, Zombie sits eyes wide open staring straight ahead, much like, well, a fictional zombie.
It’s kind of an odd skill, and Zombie got a kick out of the fact that people got a kick out of it. But given his job, it actually may be a stupid skill that is beneficial.
Zombie fights Brian Ortega on Saturday (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+) in the main event of UFC Fight Island 6 in Abu Dhabi. The winner, UFC president Dana White said, will likely get the next crack at featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
That begs the question, can a blinkless fighter become a UFC champion? Well, if he’s able to see punches coming better than the next guy, perhaps his chances are better than they may have otherwise been.
“If you are able to look at the punch while you are being hit, it hurts less,” Zombie told Yahoo Sports via an interpreter. “If you can see it a little earlier, then you have the chance to get out of the way, and it doesn’t hurt at all.”
I think he added that last part for comedic effect, but hey, 100 percent of the punches that don’t land don’t hurt, right?
It’s something that came natural to him but which the TV folks on this show found irresistible.
If it’s useful against an elite fighter like Ortega, who is returning to the cage for the first time in 22 months, then it could put him one step closer to greatness.
The stakes are high in the Ortega fight because of the impending title shot, but also a personal rivalry. Zombie is a notoriously reserved man who has little to say in interviews.
But last year, he enlisted the services of Jay Park, a Korean American rapper, to serve as his interpreter and suddenly, he was talking trash much more often, including about Ortega.
Ortega didn’t care for it and ran into Park at UFC 248 in March at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. He slapped Park and was briefly detained.
Zombie has opted to leave the trash-talk in the past and he hired a professional interpreter to help him with his interviews for his bout on Fight Island as opposed to using Park.
“I did the trash-talking as a service to my fans,” he said. “The fans like it so I wanted to do what they like. But the consequences are not nice. The Jay Park incident is one as a fighter, I regret that it happened. So I am not going to do that any more and I’ll just express myself with the way I fight.”
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