In 2019, UFC hosted 42 MMA events across the world. They touched down in well established markets like New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Brazil and more, but they also visited growing markets like Denmark, Mexico and Singapore. In the final event of the year, and decade, UFC heads to Korea for the second time in its history.
The country has a niche MMA market, including regional promotions like ROAD FC and Angel’s Fighting Championship. No doubt they have produced prominent names in MMA, including the “Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim, A Sol Kwon and Seo Hee Ham. Arguably the most well-known however is Chan Sung Jung, better known as “The Korean Zombie.” After serving his mandatory military time in South Korea, Jung started his second UFC run in 2017. Now 2-1 in his campaign, he goes up against Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC Busan.
Live from the Sajik Arena (사직실내체육관), in Busan (부산시), Korea (한국), UFC concludes it’s action-packed 2019 with UFC on ESPN+ 23. Starting at the ripe time of 2AM EST, the prelims for UFC Busan features seven bouts.
Bout 1: Heili Alateng (알라탕 헬리) (13-7-1) vs. Ryan Benoit (라이언 브누아) (10-5) (Bantamweight)
In the first bout of the show, Ryan Benoit will make a return to the UFC after a two-year layoff to face Heili Alateng. Benoit is 3-3 in the UFC, being absent since 2017, where he defeated Ashkan Mokhatarian with a head kick. Alateng is familiar to Korea, having been a frequent fighter in ROAD FC prior to being scouted by the UFC. He won his UFC debut against Danaa Batgerel back in August, going the distance with the Mongolian fighter.
Bout 2: Amanda Lemos (아만다 레모스) (6-1-1) vs. Miranda Granger (미란다 그레인저) (7-0) (Flyweight)
Similar to the first fight of the evening, Amanda Lemos comes back from an extensive break to face Miranda Granger in this fight. Lemos last fought in 2017, losing to Leslie Smith. That was Lemos’ first fight in the UFC, attempting to bounce back from whatever negative momentum still is there from the dated loss. Granger got her debut jitters out of the way in August, getting a win over Hannah Goldy. Granger had previously fought in regional promotion CFFC. She has stayed undefeated throughout her professional and amateur career.
Bout 3: Said Nurmagomedov (사이드 누르마고메도프) (13-1) vs. Raoni Barcelos (라오니 바르셀로스) (14-1) (Bantamweight)
In a fight that feels buried deep down this card, up-and-coming Said Nurmagomedov and Raoni Barcelos are pitted against each other in a bantamweight bout. Nurmagomedov is 2-0 in the UFC, prevailing over Justin Scoggins and Ricardo Ramos. Barcelos is 3-0, having recently defeated Carlos Huachin via punches.
Bout 4: Alexandre Pantoja (21-4) (알렉산드레 판토자) vs. Matt Schnell (14-4) (맷 슈넬) (Flyweight)
Matt Schnell took a little time to get on his feet in the UFC. He lost to Tim Elliott on The Ultimate Fighter Season 24, then lost two times on other shows. But, in late 2017, he snapped his losing streak and started what is now a four-fight winning streak. Attempting to move it to five, Schnell goes up against Alexandre Pantoja. “The Cannibal” most recently lost to Deiveson Figueiredo via decision at UFC 240, breaking a three-fight winning streak he had before. Pantoja has a solid 5-2 record in the UFC.
Bout 5: Omar Morales (오마르 모랄레스) (8-0) vs. Dong Hyun Ma (마동현) (16-10-3) (Lightweight)
The first Korean fighter on the card, Dong Hyun Ma, has a tall order: end Omar Morales’ undefeated streak. Morales is a Dana White’s Contender Series winner, making his debut on this card. He has also fought in Bellator in the past, taking out Troy Nawrocki in under a minute at Bellator 204. Ma has fought in the UFC since 2015, going 3-4 in the promotion. “The Maestro” will walk into this fight on a two-fight losing streak, recently getting stopped by Scott Holtzman in August.
Bout 6: Suman Mokhtarian (수만 모크타리안) (8-1) vs. Seung Woo Choi (최승우) (7-3) (Featherweight)
As the prelims near their end, two fighters will compete who have never tasted victory in the UFC. Suman Mokhatarian lost in The Ultimate Fighter Season 27, and most recently lost in the first round to Sodiq Yusuff. Korean fighter Seung Woo Choi debuted earlier this year, losing to Movsar Evloev and Gavin Tucker. He had previously been successful in Korean promotion TFC.
Bout 7: Ciryl Gane (시릴 가네) (5-0) vs. Tanner Boser (태너 보저) (17-5-1) (Heavyweight)
In the featured fight of the preliminary card, undefeated Ciryl Gane faces Tanner Boser. Gane debuted earlier this year, prevailing over Raphael Pessoa and Dontale Mayes. He had previously fought in Canadian promotion TKO. Boser won his UFC debut two months back, going the distance against Daniel Spitz. Before then, he had competed many times in ACB.
Bout 8: Kyung Ho Kang (강경호) (16-8) vs. Pingyuan Liu (리우 핑유안) (15-5) (Bantamweight)
Kicking off the main card, “Mr. Perfect” Kyung Ho Kang will face Pingyuan Liu. Coming from recognized Korean gym “Team MAD,” Kang has been a part of the UFC since 2013. A win at this show would give him a three-fight winning streak. That would make a three-way tie with his two other three-fight winning streaks for most consecutive wins in his career. But that’s looking quite ahead of time. First, he has to defeat Liu, who is no walk-through opponent. While he recently lost to Jonathan Martinez in July, the fight ended his 10-fight winning streak which dates back to his career in WLF.
Bout 9: Jun Yong Park (박준용) (10-4) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (마크-안드레 바리올트) (11-3) (Middleweight)
The next fight sees Jun Yong Park and Marc-Andre Barriault battle for their first win in the promotion. Park lost his debut to Anthony Hernandez in August, getting caught in an anaconda choke in the second minute. Barriault lost twice this year, more recently in a split decision to Krzysztof Jotko. He wrapped up a six-fight undefeated stint in TKO before being signed by the UFC.
Bout 10: Da Un Jung (정다운) (12-2) vs. Mike Rodriguez (10-4) (마이크 로드리게스) (Light Heavyweight)
Following a strong debut in August from Da Un Jung, he returns on this card to face Mike Rodriguez. Jung’s UFC debut saw him choke Khadis Ibragimov to win the fight. He had previously fought in many promotions, mainly Japanese promotion HEAT. Rodriguez recently lost to John Allan via decision, making him 1-2 in the promotion. He found himself in the UFC after getting a stoppage victory in the first season of Dana White’s Contender Series.
Bout 11: Doo Ho Choi (최두호) (14-3) vs. Charles Jourdain (찰스 조르단) (9-2) (Featherweight)
A couple of fights after gym-mate Kyung Ho Kang fights, Doo Ho Choi will be put up against Charles “Air” Jourdain in a featherweight class. Choi has been out of the spotlight lately, recently losing to Jeremy Stephens via punches in early 2018. Before then, his most recent fight was a loss to Cub Swanson in 2016. Attempting to break his streak, “The Korean Superboy” will be put up against Jourdain, who lost in his UFC debut against Des Green back in May. Coincidentally, like many other fighters on this card, Jourdain fought frequently in Canadian promotion TKO before being signed to the UFC.
Bout 12: Volkan Oezdemir (볼칸 우즈데미르) (16-4) v.s Aleksandar Rakic (알렉산더 라키치) (12-1) (Light Heavyweight)
The co-main event of the show sees light heavyweight contender Aleksandar Rakic get put up against one of the weight classes gatekeepers, Volkan Oezdemir. Rakic is 4-0 since debuting in the UFC, more recently getting a win over Jimi Manuwa in under a minute due to a head kick. Oezdemir recently put an ending to a three-fight losing streak, stopping Ilir Latifi in two rounds. To be absolutely fair, Oezdemir’s losses came against title challengers like Daniel Cormier, Anthony Smith and Dominick Reyes. Whether he will allow Rakic to add his name to the list of winners will be seen on Saturday.
Bout 13: Chan Sung Jung (정찬성) (15-5) vs. Frankie Edgar (프랭키 에드가) (23-7-1) (Featherweight)
The main event of the evening sees Chan Sung Jung, or, “The Korean Zombie” face Frankie Edgar in a five-round fight. This matchup only came together in recent weeks, as Jung’s original opponent was Brian Ortega. He pulled out of the fight recently however, citing a torn ACL taking him out of action. Edgar stepped up to the plate, and here we are. Jung left the UFC limelight in 2014 to undergo two years of military service in Korea. He returned in 2017, stopping Dennis Bermudez in under three minutes with punches. His first lost in his recent run came against Yair Rodriguez, who landed a literal last-second elbow to knock Jung out in a five-round bout. Jung bounced back however, recently defeating Renato Moicano in just under a minute with strikes.
Edgar’s last fight was for the Featherweight Championship. While he went all 25 minutes with now-former champion Max Holloway, he did not prevail. Before then, he beat Cub Swanson. He was originally slated to face Jung in 2018, but was replaced due to a torn bicep. Edgar is one of the most experienced fighters in UFC’s history, with a record of 17-7-1 in the promotion.
After this event, UFC will be absent from events for four weeks. When returning, UFC will present UFC 246. Currently scheduled to headline the card is Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone in a five-round non-championship fight. In the meantime however, there will most certainly still be MMA. Bellator will debut in Japan on the 28th, with Fedor Emelianenko and Rampage Jackson main eventing the card. New Year’s Eve will have a double header with RIZIN in Japan and PFL having their grand finals in New York. ONE Championship will also hold a big card in Thailand to kick off the new year’s tour of MMA events.