Five Questions with Phil Chertok: Korean Zombie, Ngannou, UFC 239

Phil Chertok looks at the highlights from the weekend, Francis Ngannou vs. Junior dos Santos, Jose Aldo signs a deal & the hype going into UFC 239.

Photo courtesy: UFC 

This past weekend, ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung bounced back from a devastating loss to Yair Rodriguez, stopping Renato Moicano in the main event of their featherweight fight. The weekend was also highlighted by the crowning of a new Bellator champion, plus we look ahead to this weekend’s UFC event in Minneapolis and a peek towards UFC 239 as International Fight Week begins next week.

POST: First off, what was the biggest story coming out this past weekend’s UFC and Bellator cards and why was it Chan Sung Jung’s performance?

Chertok: The Korean Zombie’s performance on Saturday night was electric, he was able to finish Renato Moicano with lightning speed and he looks better than ever. Unfortunately, the UFC’s featherweight division is stacked so he’ll need a few more fights before he’s near a shot at the belt which is why I’m going to say that Rafael Lovato Jr.’s win over MMA veteran Gegard Mousasi is the weekend’s biggest story. Mousasi was a champion in most major promotions minus the UFC and when he was in the Octagon he was as among the top of the division. Prior to this fight, no one considered Rafael Lovato Jr a premier middleweight, now you need to think of him as one of the best in the world.

This Saturday, Francis Ngannou has the chance to become the first fighter to earn victories over Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, how important is this fight for Ngannou’s legacy and is a title fight at stake? 

A title fight is definitely at stake with this bout. For Ngannou his KO victory over former champion Cain Velasquez sets him up for a massive championship match with current title holder Daniel Cormier, should both men win their next scraps. A victory here for Dos Santos gives him 4 in a row, which is unheard of in the heavyweight division. Given his history with Cain, he makes for a compelling match-up for D.C as well.

How would you treat the flyweight situation with two perennial contenders fighting this weekend in Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga with an injured Henry Cejudo, who holds titles in two weight divisions?

How would I treat the flyweight situation? There’s no treatment available that can do anything at this point. All we can do now is light a candle and wait.  Meanwhile, Henry Cejudo is polishing his Gold Medal.

Earlier this week, Dana White revealed that Jose Aldo has signed a new contract after flirting with retirement at the expiration of his last deal. With an eight-fight deal, is this a contract you expect to see Aldo finish out and what weight class best suits him? 

It’s hard to imagine Aldo fighting out all 8 of those bouts but it’s not like he’s looked outclassed in the Octagon lately and has only fought the best of the best. With that said, I expect this to be the last deal of his career and I think it would be best to stay at the weight class where he was a champion. Featherweight still offers a lot of potential good matchups for Aldo and he seems to manage his weight cuts much better now than he did earlier in his career.  Maybe a rematch with the aforementioned Chan Sung Jung would be a good first fight under his new deal.

Finally, with International Fight Week upon us and two championship fights at UFC 239 what is your read on the buzz for the card and what fight are you most interested in? 

It’s hard to tell what the buzz is around UFC pay-per-views now that they are exclusively on ESPN+ because it’s hard to get buyrate info but on paper, this looks like a tremendous card. Any opportunity to see Jon Jones is special and the Bantamweight title fight between his teammate Holly Holm and champion Amanda Nunes is flying under the radar and could be a fabulous contest. However, the most interest has to be for the grudge match between welterweights Jorge Masvidal and Ben Askren. Masvidal has been on fire since knocking out former title challenger Darren Till in spectacular fashion earlier this year. But it was his quick turnaround later that night when he filled an impromptu Uber Eats order that Leon Edwards didn’t ask for, that really captured the attention of the UFC audience. Askren has also been red hot since he entered the UFC late last year. It’s hard to think of another UFC newcomer that has had such a quick impact but with a definitive win against ‘Gamebred’, Askren will be knocking at the door of a 170-pound title shot.

Phil Chertok is the co-host of our UFC POST Shows on the site and will return on Saturday, July 6, following UFC 239.