SEOUL (AFP) - Asia's highest-ranked mixed martial artist has said fighters must remember that they are idols for children, as he slammed last week's "shocking" scenes after Conor McGregor's defeat by Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Jung "The Korean Zombie" Chang-sung said the post-fight violence, when Nurmagomedov and his team attacked McGregor and his entourage in images beamed around the world, had set back attempts to clean up MMA's image.
"We should be inspiring kids and not shocking them," the Seoul-based featherweight said ahead of this week's Angel's Fighting MMA event in Seoul, where all profits will go to medical expenses for terminally ill children.
"As martial artists we are role models," added the 31-year-old, who is ranked 10th in the world by the Ultimate Fighting Championship in his weight division.
"Hyping up the fight is understandable but violence outside the cage is a no-go. We are adults and should remember the impact what we do has on kids."
Jung was speaking at his Korean Zombie Gym in Seoul as he prepared to fly out for his next fight, against the UFC's former champion and third-ranked featherweight Frankie "The Answer" Edgar.
The bout will headline the UFC's 25th-anniversary fight card in Denver on Nov 10, reflecting Jung's stature and the sport's global reach.
If he finds a way past the American veteran, the Korean fighter is expected to get a second shot at the featherweight title - and the chance to become the UFC's first Asian world champion.
"Fighters are emerging from all over Asia, and from South Korea," said Jung. "The image of the sport has improved and it is up to us as martial artists to make sure this continues."
A 'positive' force
Jung's "Zombie" tag comes from his ability to keep moving forward into battle, even when under a barrage, and he is level-headed about the challenge posed by Edgar.
"I know he will try to wear me down, try to exhaust me, but I am ready for that," he said. "My stamina is very good."
Jung seemed destined for the top after joining the UFC in 2011, after starring on the domestic scene in South Korea.
He went 3-0 before losing to then featherweight champion Jose "Scarface" Aldo, dislocating his shoulder throwing a huge right before losing via TKO in the fourth.
Following South Korea's compulsory military service and a knee injury, Jung exploded back onto the scene with a first-round knockout of Dennis "The Menace" Bermudez in February 2017.
With a career record of 14 wins and four losses, he will face his biggest challenge yet against Edgar (23-6-1), the 36-year-old former UFC lightweight champion.
But he said that his time away from the cage - which also brought the birth of three children, aged four to three months - had put life into perspective.
At the Angel's Fighting event, Jung was in the corner for a fighter from his gym. He said such charity initiatives showed MMA could have a positive impact.
"In the past the image (of MMA) has not been great but we are seeing this change, and everything is looking positive," he said.
"A while back I used to fight for myself, for fame. But now family overrides that and I am fighting for my family."