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Undefeated 9-0 prospect Sung-Bin Jo released from UFC contract following debut loss

Seoul, Korea’s Sung-Bin Jo built considerable momentum on the Asian regional scene, working his way through A-Toys Challenge Fight and Kunlun Fight. Sung-Bin would find early finishes against all of his opponents and inevitably graduated to his hometown’s promotion Top FC. The ‘Korean Falcon’ would enjoy bookings on main cards alongside Top FC and now UFC Champion Zhang Weili. After improving to 9 consecutive finishes and winning the Top FC Featherweight title, he finally received the call to join the big leagues and rejoin former colleague Zhang in UFC.

As Zhang Weili continued her 19 fight unbeaten streak and blazed her trail to stardom, there was just as much reason to believe Sung-Bin would emerge in the mainstream spotlight. With both enjoying substantial win streaks and taking the same career path through titles in Top FC, the UFC thought the blueprint would prove itself once again.

Sung-Bin defeated Yoshifumi Nakamura by
2nd round knock out on TFC 15’s main card

A new prospect’s brand is built by cleaning out the fledgling prospects with losing records who are struggling to keep their UFC contracts. This ‘Out with the old, in with the new’ match making is an efficient enough model because it allows the new prospect to test the waters with what should be an easier tune up fight for their debut. Therefore, it is typically ‘sudden death’ for the older prospects, which doesn’t always affect their performances.

 And such was the case with Sung Bin’s booking against the sliding Daniel Teymur. Teymur eerily resembles Sung-Bin himself as he signed his UFC contract on a 6 fight win streak, all first round finishes. But Teymur’s finishing prowess has failed to translate to the big leagues as he has yet to find a UFC win. He suffered a unanimous decision loss against Danny Henry followed by two submission losses to Julio Arce and Chris Fishgold.

With an 0-3 promotional record, including back to back losses by rear naked choke, the odds couldn’t be any more against Teymur as he faces off against an undefeated prospect. Matchmakers and fans alike can all see what the intention was there, and the challenge would have to feel justified Daniel.

Jun 1, 2019; Stockholm, Sweden; Daniel Teymur (red gloves) reacts to fight against Sung Bin Jo (blue gloves) at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

A ‘Win or go home’ offering after a winless 0-3 skid shouldn’t feel like a slap in the face but rather more of a motivation to prove oneself. So, with his aura taking the sudden shift of streaking killer to perpetual underdog, you would hope for a shocking result. But it wasn’t so much that Daniel Teymur shocked the world with his response to adversity, but rather Sung-Bin Jo shocked the world by not showing up.

The Korean Falcon doesn’t want to fly in Stockholm

Sung-Bin who is normally a knock out artists severely underwhelmed in his debut, being out struck in essentially all categories. Teymur managed 3:43 minutes of control compared to Sung-Bin’s 0:006. In a fight that most expected Teymur to lose, he was able to sneak past a finisher and steal his first UFC victory. Sung-Bin’s mental collapse under the lights of the big show gifted Teymur the life to fight another day and perhaps sustain his UFC career which many thought to be ending.

Judge’s Scorecards for Daniel Teymur vs Sung Bin Jo at UFC on ESPN+ 11 Stockholm, Sweden.
Judge’s scored the fight 30-27, 29-28, 30-27 Teymur by Unanimous Decision.

Ironically it is Sung-Bin Jo who will trade roles with Daniel Teymur, changing suddenly from the surging, undefeated ‘next big thing’ to the struggling prospect whose career is on the line. It seems a bit trigger happy for the promotion to cut a promising prospect after just one fight. Especially when a sports psychology coach could help navigate the new pressure under the spotlights.

The real question is was this release based solely on Sung-Bin’s performance in Stockholm, or are there other circumstances at play as well? When prospects are hard to work with, I’m sure it’s not hard for the UFC to walk away, and the same would have to apply when a prospect’s hype doesn’t translate to higher caliber competition.

While Sung-Bin Jo is another fascinating entry to the UFC One Fight Wonder list, it will be more interesting to see if Daniel Teymur can complete his turnaround and get back to back wins. The pressure isn’t entirely off him, but he has Sung-Bin Jo to thank for the breathing room. With the dream alive for at least one more fight, a Korean knockout artist with stage fright could be to thank for the turning point in what Teymur intends to make a spirited title run at 145lbs.

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