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05th Feb 2017

Korean Zombie scores brutal first round knockout in UFC return following three-year hiatus

"This is not supposed to happen."

Ben Kiely

You thought the zombie was dead? Grave error.

The UFC featherweight division experienced a lot of changes over the last three and a half years.

Long-standing champion Jose Aldo lost his belt and regained it after Conor McGregor relinquished it, Max Holloway became interim king and perennial contender Chad Mendes was taken out of the equation for two years after failing an out-of-competition drug test.

During that period, the UFC Houston headliners kept themselves busy in very different ways.

The key word for Dennis Bermudez was “active”, as the Menace took part in seven contests. Ricardo Lamas ended his impressive win-streak at seven and an overweight Jeremy Stephens made him slump to a two-fight skid. Two unanimous decision victories later, Bermudez got matched up with Chang Sung Jung.

The last time we saw the Korean Zombie inside the Octagon before Saturday night, he was getting viciously pummeled by Aldo after a dislocated shoulder ended his night early. Since that faithful night in 2013, injuries stopped Jung fighting again before he went off to do mandatory service with the South Korean army.

He promised he would be back, but the fear was that he would no longer be able to hang with division’s elite upon returning due to decline, inactivity or simply because the game had passed him by.

Jung appeared to have a little ring rust in the opening exchanges with Bermudez cracking him and catching him with knees and nasty short strikes in the clinching range. He was able to stuff the takedown, but Bermudez soon wised up to this and began mixing strikes with takedown attempts to keep his opponent guessing.

A huge overhand right landed on the button and caused Jung to stagger, but hurting Jung without securing the finish turned out to be the worst thing Bermudez could have possibly done.

Suddenly, the brawler woke up and found himself exactly in that warm, cozy and violent place that he had missed so much. He was exactly where he wanted to be – in a fight.

Jung stretched out his arms to beckon Bermudez into the fire before stepping straight into the pocket and going to work. A thunderous right uppercut sent Bermudez crashing down to the canvas in a heap to seal the knockout at 2:49 of the opening round.

A fresh title contender re-enters the fray.