UFC Fight Night 139 results, highlights: Yair Rodriguez lands last-second elbow to finish Korean Zombie

In the promotion’s return to the city where it all began 25 years earlier, UFC celebrated its silver anniversary on Saturday in Denver with a five-round brawl and one of the most sensational finishes in company history.

Yair Rodriguez equaled a UFC record for latest finish when he crouched forward at his waist to catch Chan Sung Jung coming forward with an elbow from an almost impossible angle at 4:59 of Round 5 to knock “The Korean Zombie” cold in the main event of UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center.

The featherweight tilt was already bordering on fight-of-the-year contendership entering the final sequence when both competitors paused with 10 seconds to go in order to share respect by shaking hands. Rodriguez (11-2) then closed out what had already been a sensational performance of creative, highlight-reel strikes with one fans won’t soon forget.

The 26-year-old Rodriguez, who filled in for injured Frankie Edgar as a last-minute replacement, collapsed following the finish and needed assistance exiting the cage due to an injured foot he aggravated in the opening round when a kick attempt caught Jung in the knee.

The record-tying finish equaled former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson’s submission of Kyoji Horiguchi with just one second to spare at UFC 186 in 2015.

“[I feel] like shit,” Rodriguez said. “I just want to say thank you because all of my family is here. I just want to say thank you so much.”

Rodriguez bounced back from a 2017 stoppage loss to Edgar and improved to 10-1 since 2012. But he did so in as dramatic a way as possible considering the thin air in Denver which affected both fighters, the short training camp he endured as a late replacement and the fact that he was likely headed toward a decision loss.

The reason for that was because Jung (14-5) turned in a vintage action performance that personified what fans love about his reckless, ultra aggressive style. “The Korean Zombie,” who was making just his second appearance inside the Octagon in five years and first since a February 2017 first-round knockout of Dennis Bermudez, fought through a busted lip in a bloody, two-way war.

The 31-year-old Jung overcame recent injuries and the long layoff due to mandatory military service in his native South Korea by constantly walking his opponent down with stiff punches. Yet it was the exciting nature to which Rodriguez countered that attack with unique striking attempts that played a key role in the fight being so special.

Rodriguez, who moved into a second-place tie for the most featherweight wins in UFC history behind current champion Max Holloway, seemed to rebound quickly from moments in which he was hurt by clean punches by unleashing spinning backfists and flying knees.

A hard left hand by Jung caught Rodriguez late in Round 3 and forced him to circle away and cover up until the final horn. But Rodriguez, who bled from his nose beginning in Round 4, overcame being buckled due to a right hand to stagger Jung with one of his own to open Round 5.

“Whoever Shawn Shelby and Dana White want to give me next, I don’t care,” Rodriguez said. “I am here and the only thing I care from now on to make me happy every morning is that I am here to feed my family.”

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