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Korean Zombie masterclass demands UFC title shot
After the performance he put on Tuesday night against Dustin Poirier at Patriot Center, it will be difficult to deny Chan Sung Jung a UFC featherweight title shot against Jose Aldo.
The Korean Zombie landed accurate punches, power takedowns and devastating kicks. But it was a D'Arce choke in the fourth round that put the highly-rated Poirier out.
Poirier had fended off several close submission attempts throughout a fight he never looked in control of, and he refused to tap even in the act of defeat as the referee came to his rescue.
The first two rounds were a clinic from the Zombie, who owned his man in the stand-up but did his best work on the mat. There, he transitioned beautifully from armbar attempts to triangle chokes, and much credit must go to Poirier for having the skill level to repeatedly escape.
In each of the first two stanzas it appeared Poirier would be tapped, but he then bounced back in the third with hard right jabs and powerful lefts that caused swelling around Jung's left eye.
"He had me in trouble at the beginning of the third round," Jung said. "The thought [of losing] was in my head."
Jung appeared to tire heading into the fourth. But a hard right hand sent Poirier (12-2) against the cage. Jung followed with a flying knee to the chin that stunned Poirier, who lost for only the second time as a professional.
With his opponent clearly hurt, Jung took him to the ground where he applied the D'Arce choke, forcing referee Dan Miragliotta to stop it at the 1:07 mark.
The loss is huge for Poirier, who entered the bout on a five-fight win streak and with a No. 3 ranking among featherweights by ESPN. He was hoping to earn a title shot with a victory over Jung. But that opportunity might go to Jung, who improves to 13-3.
Lightweight contender Donald Cerrone put on a striking clinic against Jeremy Stephens en route to a unanimous decision. Cerrone, coming off his loss to Nate Diaz, impressed all three judges with slick hands and crunching leg kicks that hurt Stephens throughout the bout. Each judge scored the fight 30-27.
Cerrone (18-4) did not just impress with his striking, he also showed off solid footwork that helped him avoid Stephens' knockout power. By the final klaxon Stephens could barely see out of one eye and his left leg was in clear distress, having taking one of the heaviest beatings of his career.
After the win, Cerrone complimented his foe, who absorbed countless punches and kicks but never stopped coming forward. "He came and brought it and did what he said he was going to do," Cerrone said of Stephens.
The loss drops Stephens to 20-8. He has now lost two in a row.
Elsewhere, Amir Sadollah outmanoeuvred Jorge Lopez for a split decision win, Yves Jabouin landed spinning back kicks and big right hands en route to a unanimous decision over Jeff Hougland, and Tom Lawlor celebrated his 29th birthday with a first-round knockout of middleweight Jason MacDonald.
This article first appeared on ESPN.com