UFC 273: Alex Volkanovski VS Korean Zombie
Saturday, April 9 – VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida
This is an opportunity that The Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung could not have been expecting. He tops the bill in Jacksonville here in a featherweight title fight against Australian champion Alexander Volkanovski. Zombie was promoted to this spot after an injury forced No. 1 contender Max Holloway to the sidelines and you can be he will be looking to make the most of this unforeseen good fortune on his end.
In Zombie’s way stands Volkanovski, a champion who really seems to be growing into the role. This is his third title defense and he will be looking to make it a trio of wins after decision victories over both Holloway and Brian Ortega. Zombie hasn’t been in this spot since 2013 when he lost a match for the belt at this same weight against Jose Aldo.
Zombie is on the downside of what has been an entertaining career both due to his style of fighting and the persona that he has embraced. It almost feels like he deserves a strap for what he has meant to the division, but the odds are what they are for a reason.
Volkanovski is a machine. He has won 20 in a row including 10 on the bounce in UFC and can seemingly fight any way he wants to. Defending submissions was a question mark but against Ortega last time out he showed that he has what it takes in this area of the game. Striking has never been an issue and Zombie will have to keep his wits about him to even survive the first round. His entire mythos is built around being able to take bags of punishment and win. That isn’t how this will go down as Volkanovski will deal way too much punishment for the Korean to fight through.
Further down the card, there is another title on the line. Undisputed champion Aljamain Sterling faces Russia’s interim champion Petr Yan. Yan was disqualified in their first bout for an illegal knee back at the beginning of 2021 and Sterling hasn’t fought since. Yan is a little more battle-tested, having gone through Cory Sandhagen to claim the interim strap that will be put to bed after this unification bout.
This one could be as one-sided as the main event in its own way. It is a matchup that needed to happen to get the bantamweight division back on track, but it is hard to see how Sterling would have improved enough to upset the heavy striking Yan. The bout was going decidedly the way of the Russian in their first fight and unless Sterling has unlocked a bunch of new grapples and counters then he is in trouble here. I expect Yan to pick up the victory before the end of the fourth round and potentially even more quickly than that.