UFC Fight Night Report: Brian Ortega defeats The Korean Zombie
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday evening, the UFC held its fourth consecutive card at the Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The card was headlined by a highly anticipated fight between Brian Ortega and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung. This was a fight that was originally scheduled for December of 2019, but a torn ACL sidelined Ortega for almost a year. Jung went on to face Frankie Edgar instead, a fight that the Korean Zombie finished in the first round. After an incident between Ortega and Jung’s translator (musician Jay Park), tensions rose between the two featherweight contenders, and the fight was ultimately rescheduled. The stakes were high for this fight, as the winner would likely be next in line for a shot at the UFC Featherweight Champion, Alexander Volkanovski. In the co-main event, former UFC Strawweight Champion Jessica Andrade made her flyweight debut against the last woman to challenge for the title, Katlyn Chookagian.
The commentary team for this card consisted of John Gooden, Dan Hardy, and Daniel Cormier. Performance bonuses were awarded to Jessica Andrade and Jimmy Crute. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Guram Kutateladze and Mateusz Gamrot.
*Said Nurmagomedov def. Mark Striegl by KO at 0:51 of Round 1
*Maxim Grishin def. Gadzhimurad Antigulov by TKO at 4:58 of Round 2
*Fares Ziam def. Jamie Mullarkey by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Jung Yong Park def. John Phillips by unanimous decision (30-25 all)
*Gillian Robertson def. Poliana Botelho by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
*Guram Kutateladze def. Mateusz Gamrot by split decision (29-28, 29-28. 28-29)
*Jonathan Martinez def. Thomas Almeida by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*James Krause def. Claudio Silva by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Jimmy Crute def. Modestas Bukauskas by KO at 2:01 of Round 1
*Jessica Andrade def. Katlyn Chookagian by TKO at 4:55 of Round 1
*Brian Ortega def. Chan Sung Jung by unanimous decision (50-45 all)
MARK STRIEGL (18-2, 1 NC, 136) VS SAID NURMAGOMEDOV (13-2, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Nurmagomedov caught Striegl with a low kick and a counter right hand to begin the fight. Striegl rushed in and Nurmagomedov rocked him (while off-balance) with a left hook. Nurmagomedov gave him no time to recover, forcing Striegl to the ground with a series of right hands, and he proceeded to quickly knock Striegl unconscious with some brutal ground and pound.
WINNER: Said Nurmagomedov by KO at 0:51 of Round 1
Nurmagomedov has been impressive since debuting in the UFC, but he needed a dominant performance like this one after losing his last fight. He’s a fighter who often does his best work in the first round, and that’s exactly what he did here. Nurmagomedov (who has no relation to Khabib, as the commentators will never tire of informing you) is now 3-1 in the UFC.
GADZHIMURAD ANTIGULOV (20-7, 206) VS MAXIM GRISHIN (30-8-2, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Grishin defended Antigulov’s first takedown attempt of the fight. was trying to close the distance, and was applying pressure for the majority of the round. Eventually, Grishin backed Antigulov up with an elbow and a strong leg kick. This was a very dull round, which I scored for Grishin, exclusively for that aforementioned leg kick. Honestly, a 10-10 wouldn’t be out of the question.
Antigulov quickly took Grishin down to begin the second round. He kneed him in the back of the thigh a number of times. Grishin scrambled on top, and they separated with half the round remaining. Grishin took Antigulov back down to the ground and began to work from top mount. He landed some strong elbows and short hammer fists. Antigulov scrambled back to his feet and landed a big right hand, which was the strongest moment of the fight for him. Grishin began to tee off on Antigulov against the cage, and while Antigulov didn’t appear to be particularly hurt, he was doing nothing to improve his position, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Maxim Grishin by TKO at 4:58 of Round 2
Antigulov was very unhappy with the stoppage. I thought it was early myself, although I understand why the fight was stopped. Antigulov was doing almost nothing to defend himself, which is a terrible look. Regardless, I doubt many viewers were particularly upset about this fight being over. Grishin is now 1-1 in the UFC.
JAMIE MULLARKEY (12-3, 156) VS FARES ZIAM (10-3, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Mullarkey caught a kick from Ziam and brought him down to the ground. Ziam swept his way on top and attempted a guillotine. Mullarkey escaped the attempt and they separated. Ziam was landing some powerful kicks to the lead leg of Mullarkey. Mullarkey returned fire with some leg kicks of his own later in the round. Ziam racked up two takedowns towards the end of the round, but he couldn’t keep Mullarkey down. 10-9 Ziam.
Ziam caught Mullarkey with a head kick and defended a takedown attempt not long after. He landed a solid knee to the head on the break from the clinch. Mullarkey was successful on his next two attempts and had roughly ninety seconds to work from half guard. Ziam escaped with seconds remaining in the round, although he ended the round on his back following a failed trip attempt. I gave this round to Mullarkey.
Ziam defended a takedown to begin the third round and landed a big elbow. He attempted a takedown of his own, but Mullarkey was the one who got the better of the exchange and racked up some significant control time from top position. Ziam escaped to his feet with half the round remaining, but was brought right back against the cage, and was soon taken back down to the ground. Ziam scrambled his way to Mullarkey’s back with seconds remaining, but he was unable to do much with it before time expired. I scored this fight 29-28 for Jamie Mullarkey.
WINNER: Fares Ziam by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
There was some fun grappling exchanges throughout the fight, and I thought both men gave a good account of themselves here. I was fairly surprised by the decision. I suppose there could be an argument for giving Ziam the second round, but I fear the judges gave Ziam the final round for ending it on top. Ziam is now 1-1 in the UFC.
JUN YONG PARK (16-5, 185) VS JOHN PHILLIPS (22-10, 1 NC, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Park brought Phillips to the ground with a double leg in the opening minute of the first. Park transitioned to his back and began to pepper him with strikes. He flattened him out momentarily and landed a series of strong hammer fists. Park controlled the rest of the round, and the final strike count was ridiculously one-sided in favor of Park. 10-8 Park.
Park brought Phillips right back to the ground with a single leg. This round was looking a lot like the previous one. Referee Lukasz Bosacki urged Phillips to work as Park landed hammer fist after hammer fist. Park had landed over two hundred strikes by the end of the second. This was another 10-8 round for Park, and Phillips would need a finish in the third to win this fight.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Park took Phillips right back to the ground to begin the third round. In just two rounds, Park had set a middleweight record for most ground strikes in a three-round bout. He added to that record in the third, although his activity did not quite match his output from the previous two rounds. I scored the fight 30-24 for Jun Yong Park.
WINNER: Jung Yong Park by unanimous decision (30-25 all)
This was just about as one-sided as it gets. Park dominated every second of every round and was never in any danger throughout this fight. He finished this fight with a total of 286 strikes landed (to his opponents five), which is just ridiculous. This was Phillips’s fifth loss in six UFC outings, and I imagine this will be his last appearance inside the octagon. Park is now 2-1 in the UFC.
GILLIAN ROBERTSON (8-4, 125.5) VS POLIANA BOTELHO (8-2, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Robertson immediately shot for a single leg, but couldn’t complete the takedown. Botelho connected with a hard leg kick and defended another takedown attempt from Robertson. Botelho was getting the better of their exchanges on the feet, but Robertson succeeded on her next takedown attempt following a knee from Botelho. Unfortunately for Robertson, there wasn’t a ton of time left in the round to capitalize on her success. 10-9 Botelho.
Robertson got Botelho to the ground much quicker in the second round. She transitioned to side control and then proceeded to pass Botelho’s guard to move into top mount. She was unable to get a finish, but between her control time and ground and pound, this was a very clear round for Robertson, and this round was arguably 10-8 territory.
Botelho landed some solid kicks to begin the third but was quickly taken back down with a double leg. She transitioned to top mount yet again and continued to pepper Botelho with short elbows. Once again, this round was all Robertson, and she took Botelho’s back to end the round. I scored the fight 29-27 Robertson.
WINNER: Gillian Robertson by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Robertson has steadily improved since her time on The Ultimate Fighter. Since making her UFC debut in 2017, she has fought eight times, and this was actually the first one to go to decision. Her grappling ability is impressive, and a fight against one of the lower-ranked flyweight competitors would be a sensible next step for her. Robertson called out Antonina Shevchenko in her post-fight interview.
MATEUSZ GAMROT (17-0, 1 NC, 156) VS GURAM KUTATELADZE (11-2, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Kutateladze opened up the fight with a big kick to the body. Gamrot took Kutateladze down about a minute into the round, but Kutateladze kept Gamrot from advancing by threatening a heel hook. They returned to the feet, and Kutateladze landed another hard kick to the body. Kutateladze almost caught Gamrot with a soccer kick at one point, that earned a warning from the referee. 10-9 Kutateladze.
Kutateladze dropped Gamrot seconds into the second round with a left hand, but he recovered quickly. Gamrot attempted to bring the fight to the ground, but Kutateladze defended the attempt and kept things on the feet. Gamrot’s game plan was clearly to bring this fight to the ground, but it just wasn’t working, and Kutateladze was a step ahead on the feet. Gamrot got him to the ground on his seventh attempt, with a minute to work from Kutateladze’s guard. He couldn’t hold him down for long, and Kutateladze popped back up. Gamrot landed a strong right hook at the end of the round. 20-18 Kutateladze.
Gamrot continued to search for takedowns in the third, but Kutateladze’s takedown defense continued to hold up early in the round. Eventually, Gamrot succeeded in getting the fight to the ground and racked up a significant amount of control time against the cage. The remainder of the round was fairly even on the feet, but Gamrot doubled Kutateladze up on strikes and ended the round with one last takedown. I gave Gamrot the round but scored the fight 29-28 for Guram Kutateladze.
WINNER: Guram Kutateladze by split decision (29-28, 29-28. 28-29)
Kutateladze was very upset with his performance in his post-fight interview and was convinced he lost the fight. Honestly, I think he was being a bit hard on himself. He had a razor-close fight against an undefeated fighter, and I thought he won, as did two of the judges. Still, both fighters looked skilled here and showcased multiple aspects of their games. This was the UFC debut for both fighters.
THOMAS ALMEIDA (21-3, 146) VS JONATHAN MARTINEZ (12-3, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Almeida’s last fight was in January of 2018.
Neither fighter wasted time before engaging in the center of the octagon. Martinez was fighting behind his jab, and he mixed in a number of solid kicks to the body. Martinez landed a pair of hooks as Almeida moved forwards. Almeida was having trouble getting in much of a rhythm, as Martinez was doing a great job of punishing him whenever he moved in. Martinez ended the round with a head kick and a strong left hook. 10-9 Martinez.
Almeida’s left eye appeared to be bothering him at the start of the second round. Almeida evened up the striking numbers, but Martinez was still the fighter landing the bigger shots. Martinez landed a knee at the same time that Almeida connected with a left hook, which knocked Martinez off balance. They exchanged strong hooks, and Martinez connected with another left hand to end the round. I gave this round to Martinez as well.
They spent the beginning of the third exchanging strong shots in the pocket. Martinez landed a strong straight left that backed Almeida up, and then another one that stumbled him. Almeida landed a 1-2 of his own that hurt Martinez, but he quickly recovered. Both men were swinging hard this round, and it amazed me that neither fighter was knocked down from some of the shots that landed throughout this round. Martinez stuffed a takedown attempt from Almeida to end the round. I scored the fight 30-27 Martinez.
WINNER: Jonathan Martinez by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
This fight was the textbook example of “close but clear”. It was very entertaining and competitive, but Martinez was a step ahead of him all fight, and he got his hand raised at the end of it. I thought Almeida looked good despite the lengthy hiatus and began to find his groove in the final round. Martinez has been very impressive as of late, and this was his biggest win yet. With this win, he improved to 4-2 in the UFC.
CLAUDIO SILVA (14-1, 171) VS JAMES KRAUSE (27-9, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
Krause looked good early, countering some of Silva’s rushes with hard counter rights. Silva eventually succeeded in bringing the fight to the ground, but Krause quickly made it back to his feet. He continued to tag Silva with counter right hands and stuffed another takedown attempt. Silva landed a solid left hand of his own near the end of the round, but Krause went straight back to that counter right hook and he clearly won this round.
Krause told his corner between rounds that his leg was injured. Still, that right hand continued to find a home, and he punished Silva repeatedly for rushing in. He defended another takedown attempt. Silva looked tired, but he continued to move forward, throwing wild hooks. They both landed some solid shots as the round progressed, but Krause continued to be a step ahead. Towards the end of the round, they started slugging it out wildly. I thought Krause took this round as well.
Silva landed a few low kicks to the injured leg of Krause that clearly affected him. Silva had more or less given up on bringing the fight to the ground and continued to throw wild looping hooks Krause’s way. Krause attempted a takedown of his own that Silva shrugged off. Silva was tired, and Krause was injured, and with both fighter’s movement impacted, both fighters were able to land multiple clean shots. This one went the distance. I scored the fight 30-27 Krause.
WINNER: James Krause by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Claudio Silva was getting tagged by counter rights from the beginning of the fight and was unable to bring the fight to the ground, which is his comfort zone. Still, he fought hard, as did James Krause, who was injured in the first round. This ended Silva’s fourteen fight winning streak, and I would argue that this was one of the bigger wins of Krause’s lengthy career. Krause has won seven of his last eight fights.
JIMMY CRUTE (11-1, 206) VS MODESTAS BUKAUSKAS (11-2, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Crute quickly shot for a takedown, but a knee that landed low paused the action and separated them. Crute proceeded to drop Bukauskas with a hard-right hand, and then he rocked Bukauskas with an uppercut as he tried to pick himself up, and as Bukauskas turned away, Crute finished him with a left hook.
WINNER: Jimmy Crute by KO at 2:01 of Round 1
This was a phenomenal knockout for Jimmy Crute, who has been extremely impressive since making his UFC debut. He is now 4-1 in the promotion, and he has finished each of his UFC wins. Crute called out Nikita Krylov in his post-fight interview, and I think it would make perfect sense to schedule that fight next for him.
JESSICA ANDRADE (20-8, 126) VS KATLYN CHOOKAGIAN (14-3, 126) – FLYWEIGHT
This fight marked Andrade’s flyweight debut.
Andrade quickly worked her way in and pressed Chookagian against the cage. She brought Chookagian to the ground and began to work from her guard. She stood back up and caught Chookagian with a strong hook. Andrade sent Chookagian to the floor with a leg kick. Chookagian caught Andrade with a knee as Andrade closed the distance. Andrade swarmed her with hooks and then slammed Chookagian down to the floor. Chookagian got up, but she ate a powerful hook to the body from Andrade, and Andrade rushed after her and dropped her with another hook to the body. Chookagian covered up, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Jessica Andrade by TKO at 4:55 of Round 1
Andrade looked unbelievable here. Going into the fight, I thought Chookagian’s size advantage would make her a difficult fight for Andrade, but Andrade more or less walked right through her here. The Flyweight Champion, Valentina Shevchenko, is scheduled to fight Jennifer Maia in November, and I imagine Andrade will be next in line for a shot following that event. This was her first fight at flyweight, and with this win, Andrade became the first woman to win fights in three divisions in the UFC.
BRIAN ORTEGA (14-1, 1 NC, 146) VS CHAN SUNG JUNG (16-5, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT
This was Ortega’s first fight since December of 2018.
The fighters touched gloves to begin the fight (albeit hesitantly). Ortega opened up the round with a strong leg kick. He continued to attack Zombie’s lead leg, while Jung was content to sit back and counter. Ortega landed a straight left to the body and dropped an off-balance Zombie with a hook. Jung quickly recovered and landed a right hook. Ortega landed a kick to the body and then went high with it. Zombie just got his guard up on time, and time expired. 10-9 Ortega.
The Korean Zombie was a bit more active to begin the second. Both men landed leg kicks, and Jung defended a takedown attempt from Ortega, his first of the fight. Zombie landed a huge uppercut that Ortega just ate. Ortega knocked Jung down with the same spinning elbow that Yair Rodriguez caught him with, and they started exchanging heavy blows in the pocket when Zombie recovered. Ortega succeeded in a pair of takedown attempts to end the round. 20-18 Ortega.
Ortega tagged Jung with a solid left hand. He caught Zombie with a strong kick to the body not long after. Ortega continued to attack the body, and Jung’s guard was beginning to lower as the round progressed. Ortega doubled Zombies output this round and landed the bigger strikes throughout it. Zombie connected with a right hook near the end of the round, and Ortega responded with a front kick. 30-27 Ortega.
Ortega connected with another left hand to begin the fourth. Zombie was having trouble finding his range, and Ortega had earned his respect with his earlier knockdowns. Ortega seemed to cut Jung open with an accidental headbutt, and proceeded to land a strong short right hand, and caught him with a strong elbow that opened it up even worse. The doctor was brought in to check on Jung, but the fight continued. Ortega continued to attack Jung’s lead leg and caught him with another strong right hand. Zombie defended a takedown attempt from Ortega to end the round. 40-36 Ortega.
Ortega caught Jung with a clean 1-2. Zombie responded with a hook against the cage. Ortega continued to limit Zombie’s output by landing straight lefts to the head and body when he would begin to close the distance. Jung’s cut was looking nasty as this fight entered its final minute. Zombie tried to find that one big shot to end the fight as time expired, but Ortega kept him at bay, and this one went the distance. I scored the fight 50-45 for Brian Ortega.
WINNER: Brian Ortega by unanimous decision (50-45 all)
This was a masterful performance from Brian Ortega. Ortega’s always been creative and carried knockout power, but he showcased a new level of striking here, and he did it against The Korean Zombie, who has looked phenomenal since returning to the UFC in 2017. I was initially skeptical of the idea that Brian Ortega should fight for the title were he to win this fight, but this was exactly the type of performance he needed to remind people why he is the second-ranked featherweight contender.
As for The Korean Zombie, it felt as though he never really got out of first gear. It wasn’t as though he had no successes throughout the fight, but Ortega was consistently a step ahead, and he never landed a strike that equaled Ortega’s best shots. He is one of those fighters that you can match up against practically anyone, and have a solid Fight Night main event, but there is not a clear next direction for him. Perhaps a rematch with Yair Rodriguez would be a sensible next fight for him.