Park, who is also a popular Korean-American musician and rapper, said Monday on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show that he has yet to decide if he’ll follow through with pressing charges against Ortega, whom ESPN ranks as the No. 3 featherweight in the world. ESPN ranks Jung, also known as “The Korean Zombie,” at No. 7.
Las Vegas Metro Police Department public information officer Larry Hadfield told ESPN that the alleged battery was claimed to have happened at about 9:15 p.m. local time. Park reported the incident about an hour after it happened, Hadfield said.
“The victim alleges he was slapped in the face by UFC fighter Brian Ortega,” Hadfield wrote in an email.
In a since-deleted social media post Monday night, Ortega wrote, “On Saturday night, I slapped three people at the same time. I apologize for slapping the ‘translator,’ and I apologize for slapping the ‘K-pop star,’ but I don’t apologize for slapping the ‘instigator.'”
Hadfield said Park has up to one year after the alleged incident to decide whether to press charges against Ortega. The spokesperson said that if Park does, the Las Vegas Metro Police would investigate it as a misdemeanor battery case. That could result in a court summons for Ortega.
“I don’t want to take this dude’s money,” Park said. “I don’t want him to go to jail or anything like that. I don’t wish anything bad about him. It was just really weird. I don’t know what other way to put it. I don’t know what he was thinking. He needs to get his act together. Real talk.”
Park said he believes the incident stemmed from Ortega’s being unhappy about a translation Park gave for Jung on the Helwani show on Feb. 10. Park, a friend of Jung, was interpreting from Korean to English during the interview. In one of his translations, Park said Ortega was scared to fight Jung. Ortega was supposed to fight Jung in December at UFC Busan in South Korea but withdrew due to a knee injury. Park said Ortega threatened him on social media after the interview.
Ortega presented his version of events in his since-deleted social media post, writing, “On May 9, 2018, Jay Park signed Korean Zombie to a management contract under AOMG Entertainment, of which Park is the CEO, and soon after the trash talking began. When I finally made it to Korea for the press conference, KZ approached me with his translator (a real one, not Jay Park) and said, ‘I want to apologize for the trash talking, it was my management that wants to do it to promote the fight.’ I accepted his apology, shook his hand and we had a great press conference. Soon after I tore my knee, and the fight got cancelled. Four weeks ago, KZ and JP, went on Ariel’s show and said I dodged the fight. ‘Dodging’ and ‘injury’ are two separate things, and since I already knew JP was the one writing the script, that’s when I welcomed him to the fight game and warned him to watch his mouth.”
On Saturday, Park was in the crowd with Jung at UFC 248. Ortega was seated nearby. Park said Ortega waited for Jung to go to the bathroom, then approached Park and slapped him in the face.
“He’s like, ‘Hey dog, are you Jay Park?'” Park said. “It kind of caught me by surprise. As I stood up, he, like, smacked me. … It was very narrow. There were chairs behind me, so I kind of fell back, and then I got up, and I kind of pushed him.”
Park said the two were then separated. Ortega was escorted away from the area by security. Park said he was not injured as a result of the open-hand slap, but he was experiencing some stiffness in his jaw. Park said he was surprised a top UFC fighter — Ortega fought for the UFC featherweight title in 2018 — would strike a smaller musician.
“What is he doing coming and attacking me?” Park said. “I could understand if I was talking s— or I was egging him on or whatever. But I was a fan of the dude. I was following him on Instagram. It was a really bad representation of himself. It was not a good look for him, bro.”
Park said the words that might have upset Ortega were not his own. He said he was just conveying what Jung was saying in Korean into English.
“For me, to be honest, I don’t feel like I did anything wrong,” Park said. “I just translated. I never put words in Zombie’s mouth. I’ve never put up a [social media] caption for him. I never told him to trash talk. I have a lot of respect for fighters. They put everything on the line. They train hard. They fight for their family.”
Jung addressed the situation on Sunday in an Instagram post in English, writing that Ortega “slapped a civilian who merely helped translate.”
“It was not a fight like real men would do,” Jung said. “What you have done is same as a grown up to beat a child. You should have attacked me. If so, I would have not been upset. You are such a coward for slapping a musician not a fighter.”
Jung added: “Now, your f—ing face stays in my mind and I will f— you up in the cage. I hope you won’t run away from me again.”
Park said that if Ortega struck him as a response to a translation, he might consider pursuing charges. But if Ortega comes out and says he was trying to stir up attention for a potential fight with Jung, Park would accept that.
“OK, I’ll take it on the chin for Zombie,” Park said. “I’ll help build up the fight.”
The UFC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.