A few years ago, hardcore MMA fans fantasized about a super-fight featuring current UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, and former Strikeforce 185-pound champ, Cung Le, and it obviously made a lot of sense back then.
Anderson was destroying all of his opponents in the UFC, while Le was smashing folks in Strikeforce.
However, Le’s 2009 loss to Scott Smith — who went 1-3 in the UFC — took away from the Vietnam native’s mystique, and his decision to commit himself to his budding acting career didn’t help. When Le finally crossed over to the UFC, Wanderlei Silva gave him a hostile reception, knocking him out during the second round of their UFC 139.
Talks about a Silva vs. Le super-fight have been rare since then, but it appears the two men are still interested in facing one another.
“The only thing that comes to mind is — and I don’t even know that would be a possible fight — Cung Le. [He’s] coming off of three wins or something like that where he’s got a little bit of a name,” Silva’s manager Ed Soares responded during an interview with CageFanatic.com when asked about potential opponents for Silva. “It’s really hard in that division because it’s so evenly matched. All the opponents, at any given day, any one of those guys can beat each other.”
Soares’ statement was like music to Le’s ears, and he quickly issued a response, making it clear he wouldn’t mind testing his skills inside the Octagon against Silva.
“If the UFC wants me to fight after our discussion, I’m totally open for it,” Le responded during an appearance on The MMA hour. “For me, I don’t mind either way. I’m just happy that I’m in the mix. There’s a lot of great fighters out there. Chris [Weidman], Luke Rockhold is another name that people should watch out for. I’m open for whatever. Whether it’s fighting, coaching or doing movies. … If the fight [should] ever happen, I wouldn’t be scared because he’s pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world. I’d be excited to see how I do, whether I get beat up or whatever. It doesn’t matter. That’s why we compete. That’s why we challenge ourselves. That’s what makes us who we are, and I love the challenge.”
UFC president Dana White didn’t seem to take Soares’ comments seriously, but he’s prone to changing his mind.
At 40 years-old, Le seems to be a shadow of his former self, but I for one would still love to see the two square up inside the Octagon. When in shape, Le is still a force to be reckoned with, and watching his Sanshou based striking against Silva’s precision Muay Thai should be entertaining.
There really isn’t a clear cut number one contender in the UFC’s middleweight division at the moment, so now seems like a good time to give MMA fans a treat they had almost given up on.
The reality is: the UFC is short on options for Silva, and Rockhold is the only one who has a legitimate claim to the number one contender spot. Luke does have some name recognition from his days as the Strikeforce middleweight champ, but it’s obvious a Silva vs. Rockhold bout isn’t going to break any pay-per-view records.
Weidman’s name is also mentioned a lot as a potential opponent for Silva, but “The All-American” doesn’t have a solid case for a title shot. His impressive TKO victory against Mark Munoz isn’t enough to earn him a shot at the 185-pound belt, and he isn’t exactly a well-recognized fighter either.
With an 8-2 professional MMA record — a decent portion of the last few years spent in Hollywood — Le often doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his accomplishments inside the cage. Despite the fact he started his career at the age of 34, after a physically demanding Sanshou kickboxing career, Le has proven that he can compete at the highest levels of the sport. Cung has been dominant every single time he’s stepped inside the cage and that holds true for his two loses. He was outclassing Smith before he got caught with a hard shot at Strikeforce: Evolution. And he was winning his fight against Wanderlei before his cardio failed him.
There isn’t a better opponent for Anderson Silva right now, and I hope UFC matchmakers jump on the opportunity to give hardcore fans a rare treat.