The "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC but he's already missed nearly half a decade of fighting.
Unlike Khabib Nurmagomedov, Cain Velasquez and others, the #KoreanZombie's first long layoff wasn't because of injury. Sung Jung opted to leave the UFC for three-plus years to serve his mandatory military service in the South Korean Army.
The 30-year-old's last fight before leaving the UFC was a defeat at the hands of former bantamweight champion #JoseAldo in August of 2013 and he didn't return until February of 2017. Despite a long layoff, Sung Jung didn't miss a step and made quick work of Dennis Bermudez in his return.
Unfortunately, the Zombie has announced that he's suffered several knee injuries, which include complete ruptures of both his ACL and PCL, and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.
We aren't doctors and to our knowledge, none of us at Champions have stayed at a Holiday Inn recently, but we are smart enough to know that those injuries are serious and will take major recovery time.
Coastal Orthopedics: Sports Medicine & Pain Management provides a detailed break down the injury Sung Jung suffered.
"The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is a ligament located towards the inner knee that is crucial for proper movement. ACL injuries commonly cause knee instability that damages other ligaments.
The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) is a band of tissue, which is also found inside your knee. It connects your thighbone to the bone of your lower leg. The main job for the MCL is to keep the knee from bending inward."
The details of the injuries are fun (we use that word loosely) to look at, but what most MMA fans care about is the recovery time. It's important to note that all knee injuries are unique and vary in time of recovery, but there's a solid baseline for recovery if you look at the most serious of his injuries, the torn ACL.
All-Pro Orthopedics provides the average timetable for a torn ACL.
"The length of the healing period depends on the type of injury and the treatment but generally, surgery for a torn ACL should be followed by up to six months of recovery time."
- Recovery after knee construction starts with one to three weeks to allow the swelling to subside. During this time, the knee should be elevated and treated with ice. The doctor may also prescribe exercises on a stationary bicycle.
- During the following two to six weeks, exercises to improve range of motion and strength are added to the patient’s regimen.
- From about six weeks to four months, the patient may be allowed to resume jogging. After six months, he or she can return to their sport or activity.
This timeline puts the Zombie out until at least December of 2017 before resuming MMA activities, best case scenario. He'd then have to book a fight and go through a healthy training camp, which isn't a given, so he's looking at almost a year away from the Octagon.
If there's a fighter you wouldn't want to count out after a long time away from competition it's the Korean Zombie. But even his biggest fans must wonder how long until the time away from the UFC catches up to him? Can he recover from missing nearly five years of his prime? Will we ever see Chan Sung Jung challenge for the title again?
Everyone will have to wait until 2018 to find out.