On June 22nd, 2019 Renato “Moicano” Carneiro looks to return to the winning bracket after his tough loss to the great Jose Aldo. His return fight will be against the cult favorite Chan Sung Jung, or as he is aptly named, the Korean Zombie. The Zombie was recently knocked out by Yair Rodriguez in an exciting fight that had him finished in the closing seconds of the fight.
Both men are now prevalent names in the tough featherweight division with Moicano ranked at 5 and the Zombie at 12. This seems like a step down for Moicano and the general attitude for this fight is that the Zombie should be a good and tough matchup for him.
However, I’m going to explain why I think that this fight, in particular, is a discreet matchup to make Moicano look good. I won’t make big predictions, but I’m going to simply state that I think the matchmaking for this fight favors the Brazilian.
Let’s talk zombies
Chan Sung Jung has been on the North American radar since 2010, starting with the WEC which would later be absorbed by the UFC. Jung has been a professional since 2007, making this fight his 20th in his long twelve-year career. However, he has spent some time out of the octagon, mostly due to his military service in South Korea from 2014 to 2016. He would later return in early 2018 with a knockout win over Dennis Bermudez. After that fight, he would take on rising upstart Yair Rodriguez, the fight showed all the classic attributes of the Korean Zombie.
The name of the game for the Korean Zombie is forward aggression. His nickname, of course, suggests that he can take a good shot, and for all intents and purposes he cashes in on it every single fight. In the Rodriguez fight, he came out immediately looking to close the distance then sit back and look for his own counters.
The first thing you will notice about Jung is that he carries his hands far away from his own face, almost on a line from his shoulders. He also likes to maintain a heavier front footed stance giving him the forward momentum to come forward and deal damage. This makes him susceptible to low kicks and Rodriguez had a field day knowing that.
But Jung’s stance is designed for a reason: counterpunching through aggression. As I said earlier, Jung loves to counter punch, meaning that he will wait on his opponent to throw in order to come back with some strikes.
This is the duality of Jung, he is not a particularly crafty striker, meaning he cannot often bait his opponents into his counters. He also does not want to smother his own work and run forward preventing the necessary distance to counter strike. Therefore, a lot of Jung’s fights is spent in an awkward kickboxing range where he can run forwards and counter any strikes. His fight with Aldo was terrible for him as Aldo’s constant feints and lightning fast strikes forced Jung to constantly reconsider his charges
Aldo would feint so frequently that when Jung got uncomfortable, he was forced to charge in with strikes to no avail. When Aldo numbed Jung’s senses with feints, he would strike forwards.
Jung’s opponent Moicano, on the other hand, suffered a loss as well to Aldo. Albeit in a different fashion.
The next generation
For the uninitiated, Renato Moicano made his UFC debut in 2014, just after Jung’s military service departure. In recent memory, Moicano has put on impressive performances with his wins over Calvin Kattar, Cub Swanson, Jeremy Stephens, and even his loss to Brian Ortega. What makes Moicano special, is his mind. Moicano seems to come into every fight with the exact know-how to deal with his opponents. While his techniques are relatively the same, it is how he applies them in each fight that matters.
I find it best to use his performance against Kattar and Ortega as comparisons to the Korean Zombie. In his fight against Ortega, it was a constant battle in the boxing distance.
What I find similar to Jung is that Ortega loves to pressure forwards and counter with a strike. He also was a huge submission threat, looking to go into the clinch on Moicano whenever the distance became too close.
Moicano dealt with this pressure by varying his strikes and constantly sticking his lead hand out into Ortega’s face, in order to ensure that he could not swarm him.
Moicano was also able to stay well into his stance, allowing him to slide back and pivot off his strikes, reducing the counters that Ortega could land.
Another wrinkle in Moicano’s game is his kicking game, or moreover, what will happen to Jung if he stays out in kicking range. Against Kattar, Moicano showed that he could set up his kicks safely and prevent the counter strike when he kicked out Kattar’s legs.
By kicking when Kattar was too far to punch or when Kattar was sitting down to punch, Moicano was able to chop his legs out from under him.
Another problem he presents to the Korean Zombie is his desire to pivot out and then throw combinations following his pivots. Against Kattar, whenever Kattar rushed in like Jung would, he was met with a left-hook and into a flurry of punches and kicks.
For a fighter like Jung, it is unlikely he will have the footwork that can carry him away from these counter combinations and will likely get stung as a result.
However, Moicano also has his weaknesses, against Aldo he made the critical error of jumping for a knee to Aldo’s chin, only to miss and hit cleanly by an Aldo hook which caused him to be finished later.
Against Ortega, Moicano was finished because, during the madness of the fight, Moicano sought to find his breath by taking Ortega down. However, Ortega is a jiu-jitsu savant, was able to pick up the instant submission win.
What does this say about Moicano? Sometimes, he can stray from the gameplan and forget where he is. Whether it was against Aldo or against Ortega, whenever Moicano feels that he needs to get an edge in the fight, he overextends himself into a loss.
What the UFC seems to be doing here with Moicano versus Jung is setting up Moicano with a good matchup for his style of violence. However, it is also a test to see if he can maintain a level head and not attempt extracurricular activities that could lead him to a loss.
While the Korean Zombie is not necessarily the most technical fighter, he certainly has finishing ability and power in his hands to end Moicano’s night if he gets careless. However, based on the performances that Moicano has been able to put on in his recent fights, it seems like this is a mismatch to give Moicano a striking highlight reel.
Whether this truly is the case is left to discussion however, this is one fight I will absolutely be keeping on an eye on come June 22nd. But for now, we can only look at the footage and wonder if this truly is a discreet mismatch.