The Fight Horizon: Chan Sung Jung vs. Ricardo Lamas

The Fight Horizon – Chan Sung Jung vs. Ricardo Lamas

At UFC 162, a card headlined by Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman, a featherweight bout pitting “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung against Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas serves as the co-main event. This fight will most likely determine the next challenger for the FW title as these are two guys both on win streaks against high level opponents. Considering the style of each fighter, we’re likely to be in for some fireworks.

The Matchup:  “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung vs. Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas

Chan Sung Jung: The Korean Zombie (one of the best nicknames in MMA by the way) had been on an impressive streak before his injury. He avenged his controversial loss to Leonard Garcia by pulling off the first twister submission in UFC history, then followed that up with a record-tying seven second knockout of former title challenger Mark Hominick, who Jose Aldo couldn’t finish in 5 rounds. His last fight was 10 months ago, when he submitted FW mainstay Dustin Poirier with a D’arce choke.

Ricardo Lamas: Lamas is also in the middle of an impressive streak, coming off of a destruction of Erik Koch (another former title contender) and defeating the likes of Hatsu Hioki and Cub Swanson before that. Lamas called for a shot at Jose Aldo after finishing Koch, a guy who Aldo was supposed to fight on two occasions, but Anthony Pettis ended up receiving the next crack at the 145lb champion.

The Date:  July 6th, 2013 at UFC 162 in Las Vegas, NV

Weight Class:  Featherweight

What led to it:  Lamas called for a title shot after his knockout of Erik Koch, who himself was headed for a championship fight against Jose Aldo before a pile of injuries led to Edgar vs. Aldo. Jung is returning from a long layoff due to shoulder surgery, but he was right where Lamas is now, on an impressive streak of wins over top contenders. Fellow title hopeful Cub Swanson just defeated Dustin Poirier and Lamas already has a win over Swanson. This fight makes the most sense as a title eliminator.

Why it matters:  The winner of this fight should get the next shot at Jose Aldo (or whoever is the FW champion at the time). There has been some talk of Aldo moving up to a more natural weight class as a lightweight, but Aldo is just as dominant a champion at FW as GSP, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones are at their respective weight classes.

Unless Benson Henderson or Renan Barao calls out Jose Aldo (or Anthony Pettis) next, in all likelihood we’re looking at the next FW challenger emerging from this fight. And FW indeed, after the Aldo vs. Pettis matchup, the last two FW title challengers will have come from the lightweight division. That’s got to play all kinds of hell with the top guys in the FW division, who have earned legitimate shots only to see them awarded to the top lightweight guys who feel like dropping down.

The winner of this fight will find himself preparing for a championship fight, but even the loser shouldn’t fall too far away from the championship tree.  Aldo has already dispatched two of the highest ranked guys in Mendes and Edgar, so a loss here wouldn’t mean climbing back up all the way from the bottom.  The Featherweight division is stacked with great fighters, and plenty of exciting matchups could be made with the loser of this fight to bounce right back into title contention.

Title eliminators always provide that extra motivation, that extra sense of urgency. Whether the fighters act upon that sense of urgency is another question, but knowing these two guys, it should light quite the fire under them to win this fight at all costs. This is that last extra step, similar to what Johny Hendricks had to go through against Carlos Condit. Both “The Zombie” and “The Bully” probably feel like they’ve done enough already, but they have one more hurdle to climb over before they get a chance at championship glory.

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