One day when I went to my gym’s mat room to stretch, a woman was already there hitting the heavy bag. Wearing clothes festooned with Cung Le gym logos, she was kicking the bag so hard the entire room was shaking. I can get the room to shake a little bit, but she was making it shake A LOT. I wondered if a Cung Le student could generate that kind of power and how hard could Cung Le himself kick. Apparently, very hard. Cung Le is famous for breaking Frank Shamrock’s arm to take the Strikeforce MMA middleweight championship. After working as an actor (see a dynamic fight scene between him and Donnie Yen after the jump), he is taking his first fight in the UFC, meeting Vitor Belfort in UFC 139.
According to this article, Cung Le’s loyalty to Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker prevented him from jumping to the UFC. When a movie production got pushed out and now that the UFC and Strikeforce are owned by the same company, Le had Coker set up a meeting with UFC officials. He ended up signing a six fight deal, with his first opponent being Vitor Belfort, an expert striker and former UFC light heavyweight champion.
When Dana and Lorenzo said, “We want you to fight Vitor,” I said, “Alright. Go big or go home. Let’s do it. I’m very excited. It’s going to be awesome.”
Some people wonder what Cung Le has left at the age of 39. He also hasn’t fought in over one year as he has two movies coming out next year. In this interview, he explains that he takes roles whenever he can over fighting:
And it’s really hard because when you’re an Asian, a minority actor, it’s harder to get parts. For me, when it rains, it pours. And when it dries up, it kind of dries up.
If it starts drying up, as long as I’m always training, then I can compete.
Still, the match up seems like it would be anything but boring. Both Belfort and Cung Le are known for their striking. Cung Le is famous for flashy moves (check out his throws he does in this Sanshou fight and especially the flying leg sweep at 8:50). Cung Le should be extra motivated because he fighting on his home turf in San Jose where has a large following, particularly in the Vietnamese American community. He has cultivated his community as fans, doing things like putting South Vietnamese Flag elements and colors on his fight shorts. In this video, look at the lower part of the screen, where a large group of fans are waving South Vietnamese flags during his entrance.
I end this post with a this clip of a movie fight scene between Cung Le and Donnie Yen from Bodyguards and Assassins. It mixes in elements of parkour and MMA references, such as leg locks and a Superman punch.