Cung Le’s spectacular first-round knockout of Rich Franklin proved he is the real deal even though it won’t silence the critics. Le gained notoriety before he entered MMA with his Sanshou Kick Boxing bouts on ESPN. Once he transitioned to the sport, he never looked back and has garnered a professional record of 11-2. Despite his success in the cage, his resume does have some issues to dissect.
His first five opponents, including Frank Shamrock, had no business standing with him, and Le made them pay for it. Lucky number seven wasn’t as lucky for the Vietnamese star as he was a victim of Scott Smith’s trademark hail marry over right. The loss was avenged a year later in such a dominant fashion that it can only be described as a “FLAWLESS VICTORY.”
One company acquisition later, and Cung Le makes his UFC debut, losing in a valiant effort to Wanderlei Silva. Le flipped the script on Patrick Cote and made the Canadian fighter uncomfortable with quick combinations to scores a unanimous decision.
Last Saturday night, Le caught Rich Franklin with the perfect punch at the perfect time. He timed Franklin’s kicks and knocked the former champion unconscious before he hit the canvas. Some say it was lucky, including Le, but he is just respectful. If you are aiming for someone’s head and the punch connects, it wasn’t lucky.
Message board fodder claims Franklin would have won if he was in better shape, citing how sucked in he looked on the scale during the weigh-ins. Cung Le reportedly injured his foot two weeks before the fight and would have backed out it wasn’t for the event’s geography. If these were both legitimate factors, they came into the fight even.
Mixed Martial Arts is an unconventional sport where the conventional is paramount in analyzing its pugilism. The enthusiasts who defend the barbaric perception of ground fighting are the same enthusiasts who believe Cung Le more fable than fact. This win proves his game encompasses the technical facets required to survive in the Octagon.
It’s fitting Cung Le earned the biggest victory of his career during the UFC’s maiden voyage to China. His international appeal, accompanied by his fan-friendly style that garners genuine results, is reminiscent of the martial arts legend considered the Godfather of MMA, Bruce Lee.