JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Chan Sung Jung knows this might be his last chance.
“The Korean Zombie” first challenged for the UFC featherweight title in 2013. On Saturday, Jung will be back with a chance at the belt against champion Alexander Volkanovski in the main event of UFC 273 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
ESPN ranks Volkanovski as the No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter. At featherweight, Volkanovski is ranked No. 1 and Jung is No. 9. Max Holloway, whom Volkanovski has defeated twice in title fights, was the originally scheduled opponent for Volkanovski before withdrawing because of injury.
Volkanovski (23-1) has won 10 straight to start his UFC career and 20 in a row overall. The Australia-born fighter defended his title against Brian Ortega via unanimous decision at UFC 266 last September and now has two successful title defenses. Volkanovski, 33, beat Holloway to win the belt at UFC 245 in December 2019.
Jung (17-6) has won three of his past four. The South Korea-born fighter is coming off a unanimous decision win over Dan Ige last June. Jung, 35, will pass Dan Henderson on Saturday as the UFC fighter with the most time between title fights. Aldo beat Jung at UFC 163 on Aug. 3, 2013.
In the co-main event, Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan will unify the UFC bantamweight title. Sterling won the title via disqualification when Yan hit him with an illegal knee at UFC 259 in March 2021. Yan is the interim champion, following a win over Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 last October.
Sterling (20-3), a 32-year-old from New York, has won six straight. Yan (16-2), a 29-year-old from Russia who trains in Thailand, is ESPN’s No. 6-ranked pound-for-pound fighter. At bantamweight, Yan and Sterling are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.
Also on the card, former title challenger Gilbert Burns and red-hot, undefeated prospect Khamzat Chimaev will meet in what could be a welterweight title eliminator. Plus, Mackenzie Dern will face Tecia Torres in a women’s strawweight contender matchup, top prospect Ian Garry will meet Darian Weeks, and Aspen Ladd and Raquel Pennington will face off in a women’s bantamweight contender bout.
Follow along as Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap every fight, or watch the fights on ESPN+.
Fight in progress: Welterweight — Mickey Gall (7-4, 6-4 UFC, +160) vs. Mike Malott (7-1-1, 0-0 UFC, -190)
Heavyweight: Aleksei Oleinik (60-16-1, 9-7 UFC) def. Jared Vanderaa (12-8, 1-4 UFC) via neck crank submission
Oleinik now has seven submissions in the UFC, second-most in heavyweight history, behind Frank Mir’s eight. More to come from Jacksonville in a bit.
Strawweight: Piera Rodriguez (8-0, 1-0 UFC) def. Kay Hansen (7-6, 1-3 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Hansen had a lot of success early with her wrestling. But it ended up with Rodriguez using takedowns and grappling to secure the win as the fight wore on.
Rodriguez picked up a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) win in her UFC debut against Hansen. Known as a striker, Rodriguez has been training in Los Angeles with noted wrestling coach Kenny Johnson and the results were apparent.
Hansen got a takedown in the first round, landed some decent ground and pound and finished the first five minutes working for an arm-triangle choke. Rodriguez got takedowns in the second and third rounds, and Rodriguez got Hansen’s back in the second and worked for a rear-naked choke.
Rodriguez, 29, is the former LFA women’s strawweight champion. The Venezuela native earned her way into the UFC with a win in Dana White’s Contender Series last October. Hansen, a 22-year-old California native, has dropped three straight following a four-fight winning streak.
Hansen missed weight Friday, coming in at 118.5 pounds, 2.5 pounds over the non-title women’s strawweight limit.
Should Dillashaw get the winner of Sterling-Yan 2?
TJ Dillashaw is here backstage at #UFC273. He says he plans on fighting the Yan vs. Sterling winner.
— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) April 9, 2022
Men’s bantamweight: Julio Arce (18-5, 5-3 UFC) def. Daniel Santos (10-2, 0-1 UFC) by unanimous decision(Watch on ESPN+)
Santos walked into the cage for his UFC debut and never took a backward step for three rounds, firing every shot with significant power. In the face of that aggression, Arce spent 15 minutes moving left, moving right, sliding backward and stepping forward to crack Santos again and again in a show of veteran mastery that earned him the nod on all three scorecards (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Arce, 32 and from New York, has won two of his last three, with the loss coming against rising star Song Yadong. He was patient and elusive, avoiding most of what Santos threw and marking him up with a steady flow of right jabs, straight left hands and high kicks. One downside: Arce missed the bantamweight limit at Friday’s weigh-in, at 136.5 pounds.
Santos, a 27-year-old Brazilian, saw a two-fight winning streak end. He was aggressive but too wild with punches and spinning attacks, landing just 17 of 70 in the first round and losing steam from there.
Still to come:
(c) = defending champion | (ic) = interim champ