Jung (16-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC), also known as “The Korean Zombie,” is looking to solidify a title shot against Ortega (14-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) in Saturday’s featherweight headliner, which takes place at Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and streams on ESPN+.
The most emphatic way to make that happen would be with a highlight-reel finish. That’s usually the manner in which he wins his fights, but Jung is tapering expectations for this one. He’s seen the type of damage Ortega has absorbed and overcome in previous bouts, so Jung said it’s critical to remain measured for all five rounds.
“Ortega’s a tough guy to knock out,” Jung told reporters, including MMA Junkie, though an interpreter at Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN+ 38 media day. “He’s got an unbelievable chin and he’s never been knocked out or knocked down. He got hit about 300 times by (Max) Holloway and still didn’t get dropped. He’s going to be a tough guy to knock out. He’s going to go five rounds and at the end of the day I want to just get that ‘W.’”
There’s been a lot of history between Jung and Ortega leading into the fight. They were originally booked to fight in December’s UFC on ESPN+ 23 headliner, but Ortega suffered a knee injury that forced him to withdraw. The pair subsequently crossed paths while attending UFC 248 in March, with Ortega slapping Jung’s friend and translator, Korean pop star Jay Park, in a highly publicized incident.
The disdain has grown between the two sides since that altercation in Las Vegas, but Jung said he’s tried to make peace ahead of fight night. He still holds Ortega’s actions against him, but said it’s important to enter the fight calm and composed.
“As an individual, we’re not on the best terms. But as Brian Ortega the fighter, I respect him to the utmost,” Jung said. “I’ve been a fan of him. All his fights, I’ve watched, and I’m actually amazed by some of the things he’s been able to accomplish. I’m expecting Brian Ortega the fighter.”
Ortega hasn’t competed since his title-fight loss to Max Holloway at UFC 231 in December 2018. He finally makes his return, and “T-City” claims he’s a new version of himself after making adjustments to his team and training regiment.
Jung said he doesn’t fully know what to expect Saturday, but he’ll be ready to win and lock up the next shot at reigning 145-pound champion Alexander Volkanovski.
“If I win, I’m going to get the title shot,” Jung said. “We can only go off the film we’ve seen of him, and eventually, when the fight starts to open up, he is who he is and he’s going to come out the way he is. He can only trust what he’s prepared to do and what he’s planned to do. So we’re kind of expecting a different type of Ortega, but we can only guess. No one will really know how he’s going to come out.”