'Korean Zombie' coach Eddie Cha details tricky part of UFC on ESPN+ 38 prep: 'We brought the camp to him'
Chan Sung Jung wasn’t going to take any chances ahead of UFC on ESPN+ 38, so he decided to prepare for Saturday’s headliner at home in South Korea.
Jung (16-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC) faces Brian Ortega in a pivotal No. 1 contender clash on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and, due to the COVID-19 cases continuously increasing in the United States, Jung wasn’t comfortable spending his training camp there.
Normally training out of Fight Ready in Scottsdale, Ariz., Jung moved his camp to home in South Korea, and coach Eddie Cha made sure to accommodate all his needs as best as he could.
“At the end of the day, ultimately it’s ‘Zombie’s’ decision, and he didn’t feel comfortable at that time coming to the States,” Cha told MMA Junkie. “I think Arizona had the most cases at the time, and so he decided and we kinda supported him running the camp out here. Ultimately, it’s the fighter’s decision. We supported it, we pushed it, so we brought the camp to him.”
Cha brought in UFC veterans Bobby Moffett and Johnny Case to help Jung prepare and credits a pivotal factor that has helped “The Korean Zombie” make major advancements in his game.
“As far as coaching staff, we were zooming captain Eric Albarracin and Santino (Defranco) and having meetings literally every other day or every day with some of the guys, so I don’t think we skipped a beat on any of that,” Cha said. “We’re zooming everything, thank goodness for technology, but our guys are doing great.
“I brought my guys for a reason. I trust them 100 percent, we’ve had a great camp. He’s grown so much. I think a huge factor in this camp too was our strength and conditioning coach, Chad Ikei. He’s got him stronger than ever. His cardio is off the chain, he can do five rounds no problem. We (were) doing two, three workouts a day.”
Ortega hasn’t competed since December 2018 and Cha admits he’s not sure what to expect from him after such a long layoff. But ultimately, Cha thinks Ortega will resort to his usual fighting style and they’ll be ready for a war.
“It’s tough to say,” Cha said. “He hasn’t fought in so long, he switched camps and everything like that. I heard some pretty good interviews about him saying that he’s gonna fight smarter and fight a lot differently and stuff like that, but I truly believe that when you get in the mix of things, you are who you are and tendencies will show.
“It takes a lot of time to develop a skillset, to actually implement it in a fight, but who knows? Brian is a talented kid, and I think he can do anything he puts his mind to, but so can ‘Zombie.’ I think that’s what’s gonna make a great fight.”