Alexander Volkanovski discusses the Korean Zombie Stoppage at UFC 273: “Sometimes people are so tough it’s worse than their own good.”


Alexander Volkanovski wishes The Korean Zombie’s corner had saved their fighter before Herb Dean had to.

In the UFC 273 main event this weekend, Volkanovski challenged Korean Zombie (also called Chan Sung Jung) to his featherweight title. It was an uneventful affair. Volkanovski defeated Zombie from pillar-to-post, beating him by a margin 138 over 48 and finally stopping the fight in round 4. It was the best performance of Volkanovski’s career thus far, but one the champion wishes could have been stopped slightly sooner.

“I was obviously happy with the finish,” Volkanovski told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. I wanted it earlier but it ended up being what it was. He was tough, man. He ate some shots, he really did. He lived up to his Zombie title. It was painful for my hands. I remember landing jabs and punches and my hands were hurting, that’s how clean they were hitting. They were hitting flush, and he would be wobbled and rocked and just come straight back to it, and I’d just do it again. He was probably rocked at least five to six times, possibly more. By the end of it, I’m glad Herb stopped it, because I felt like he definitely had enough. He seemed ready. It was clear that he knew the end was near. He was defeated already, let’s get him back home to the family healthy.”

Volkanovski isn’t the only person who felt that way. At the end of round three, Volkanovski had already hurt Zombie and seemed to be on the brink of ending the fight. But Zombie managed just enough to get the bell ringing. The commentary team recommended that Zombie’s side stop the fight between rounds. But when they didn’t, it prompted Volkanovski to even check in on his opponent before resuming the beatdown.

“In the third round, I wanted to get that finish,” Volkanovski said. He was close to me, but only for a few seconds. I was about to finish the round, and Volkanovski rolled more, then he just held on until the buzzer sounded. But seeing him in the corner, he was sitting on the ground, he was done. He was defeated, as I stated. He was defeated, as I said. That’s sort of what I felt, so I just said to him, ‘Mate, are you sure you want to keep doing this?’ I don’t know if he understood me, but he’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ and I’m like, ‘Are you sure? Alright.’

“I think Herb knew where it was at, because I was like, come on, just stop it. It was even repeated several times. He was literally saying it like that. It was obvious to many people that it had been done. People can be so strong that it makes their lives worse. It’s not good to watch them take damage. Every time he did land, I saw them coming. I saw pretty much everything coming. Everyone knew it was pretty much over so I’m glad he stopped it.”

Dean saved Zombie by stopping him from getting a second beating. However, in the aftermath of the fight, it raised the topic of corner stops in MMA and the reasons why this sport is so behind boxing and kickboxing. And like other MMA luminaries have argued, Volkanovski believes it stems mostly from corners being afraid to make the tough decision and risk alienating their fighter.

“It’s tough. You’ve got to remember what the MMA fighters are like as well,” Volkanovski said. They all feel that if you take the opportunity from them, it is quitting. I think that’s what they worry about. Maybe they worry, ‘I think my student is gonna be more angry with me if I stop it than they would by me taking care of them,’ which they shouldn’t care, but at the same time they’re weighing their options. You’re thinking, “He’s going to be very unhappy. Why’d you do that? And why haven’t you allowed me to go out on the shield?” It’s the ego, that mentality that mixed martial artists often have. But again, it shouldn’t really matter. It is important to take care of your [fighter].. He was in it in the heat. It wasn’t like he was literally out of it, but he was definitely defeated. But it wasn’t long before the ref stopped it, so it was alright.”