Brian Ortega outclasses 'Korean Zombie' in return to Octagon

UFC featherweight fighter Brian Ortega poses on the scale during a weigh-in ahead of a fight. (Chris Young/CP)

Brian Ortega returned to the Octagon after a nearly two-year layoff with perhaps the most complete performance of his UFC career when he defeated “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung by five-round unanimous decision on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

Ortega hadn’t fought since losing to former featherweight champion Max Holloway in a memorable title fight back at UFC 231 in December of 2018. The 29-year-old American was an underdog for his main even bout with Jung.

“I was counted out,” Ortega said in his post-fight interview following the win. “I understand, you leave the game for two years, you get counted out. I'm here to remind everyone. It felt great to have this happen again, having your hand raised at this level is important, it's the No. 1 thing.”

Ortega is a high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and regarded as one of the most dangerous submission artists in mixed martial arts yet it was mostly his vastly improved and dynamic striking that was on display against Jung.

All in all, Ortega outlanded Jung 129-64 in total strikes and secured three of 10 takedown attempts.

Ortega, who decided to cut off his signature lengthy hair and shave his head prior to the fight during a difficult weight cut, was the No. 2-ranked featherweight contender behind Holloway and champion Alex Volkanovski heading into the fight.

UFC president Dana White said prior to the event the winner of Ortega-Jung would get the next shot at Volkanovski, who has defeated Holloway twice in a row by decision – even though the second win at UFC 251 was widely contested by the public and White himself.

There had been talk of the UFC potentially running back Volkanovski vs. Holloway for a third consecutive time, but Ortega's performance likely ends any trilogy fight chatter for the time being.

The reigning title holder appeared impressed by the new-look Ortega.

“We're gonna find out if I'm ready,” Ortega said about possibly facing the champ next. “In this game, you take chances. You don't grow in the comfort zone. Alex Volkanovski, you're the champ. The thought of fighting you is exciting. I've got a team. Ready or not, I'm (expletive) coming.”

The co-main event saw Jessica Andrade establish herself as an immediate contender in the women’s flyweight division. The former strawweight champion made her 125-pound debut against former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian and Andrade finished her in the opening round with a pair of body shots.

Fighters on the rise like Jimmy Crute, Jonathan Martinez, Gillian Robertson and Said Nurmagomedov all shone on the card.

Here are the complete results from the event.

MAIN CARD
-- Brian Ortega def. Chan Sung Jung by unanimous decision
-- Jessica Andrade def. Katlyn Chookagian by TKO
-- Jimmy Crute def. Modestas Bukauskas by knockout
-- James Krause def. Claudio Silva by unanimous decision
-- Jonathan Martinez def. Thomas Almeida by unanimous decision

PRELIMINARY CARD
-- Guram Kutateladze def. Mateusz Gamrot by split decision
-- Gillian Robertson def. Poliana Botelho by unanimous decision
-- Jun Yong Park def. John Phillips by unanimous decision
-- Fares Ziam def. Jamie Mullarkey by unanimous decision
-- Maxim Grishin def. Gadzhimurad Antigulov by TKO
-- Said Nurmagomedov def. Mark Striegl by knockout

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