411's Jeffrey Harris sits down for an exclusive interview with former Strikeforce middleweight champion and current UFC fighter Cung Le! See what he has to say about his KO win over Rich Franklin, whether he would fight Anderson Silva and more!
Last November, UFC middleweight Cung Le (9-2, MMA; 2-1, UFC) headlined UFC's first ever event in China with UFC on Fuel TV 6. Le faced former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin and knocked him out in the first round in impressive fashion. Recently 411mania.com got the chance to catch up with Le to see what he's been up to. Recently, the UFC has gone through some trouble in finding the next opponent for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and Le was brought up as one of the names Silva would like to fight according to his manager Ed Soares.
Besides his successful MMA career that saw him win the Strikeforce middleweight title from Frank Shamrock in 2008, Le has also put together a successful acting career. He recently worked with acclaimed director Wong Kar-wai on the movie The Grandmaster. He was also featured in the 2012 release The Man with the Iron Fists as Bronze Lion. Currently Le is rehabbing from elbow surgery before.
Jeffrey Harris: Thank you for your time. First question, what was it like to be in UFC's first ever event in China in the main event against a former champion like Rich Franklin?
Cung Le: The biggest fight of my career, as it was the UFC's first event in China.
Jeffrey Harris: You were doing some rehab on your foot injury ahead of the fight. Did the foot bother you at all in the cage, or were you confident moving around on it and throwing it as well?
Cung Le: My foot was hurt about a month before the fight, bothered up until 2 weeks before. When you get in the cage everything goes out the door and you just go after it!
Jeffrey Harris: I think you deserve a lot of credit for going ahead of the fight. We saw so many fights fall apart last year due to injury or one catastrophe or another, so it was great to see the fight with you and Franklin get remade. But with the foot issue did you think you might have to rely on your hands more just in case your foot got re-aggravated again?
Cung Le: We watched a lot of Franklin fights and we approached the fight using both punches and kicks for the openings that we saw, after studying videos on Franklin. A lot of people didn't know that I had elbow surgery 6 weeks before the fight, but I went ahead and fought anyway; it didn't matter during the fight if my foot or upper body was injured, it was a matter of getting out there and doing it.
Jeffrey Harris: Very few athletes like yourself can still compete at a high level in the UFC at your age. What do you credit to still staying in great in-ring shape to still go out there and fight in the Octagon?
Cung Le: Diet, the way I take care of myself, and getting enough rest after training, on top of a clean lifestyle.
Jeffrey Harris: Was it difficult to promote the Man with the Iron Fists movie and having that come around a similar time as the Franklin fight?
Cung Le: Luckily, it was not! I planned my rest during the 3 days of film press we had scheduled…planning it around my training.
Jeffrey Harris: The timing on your knockout punch on Franklin looked amazing. And it is extremely rare to see Franklin get knocked out with one strike like that. With that in mind, how satisfying was that victory, and did you feel you proved something and made a statement with that win?
Cung Le: It was the biggest win of my career! I love to compete, but I'm not trying to make a statement. I try to be the best person that I can be in anything that I do!
Jeffrey Harris: Anderson Silva's manager Ed Soares recently put it out there that you would be an interesting fight for the middleweight champ. Now UFC President Dana White has basically said the likely fight is Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman. That being said, are you thinking about beating a guy that could get you to the title like say positioning yourself against say like Yushin Okami? Or does it not matter to you at this point?
Cung Le: It really doesn't matter to me at this point…the biggest fight that would excite me, at this point, would be Anderson Silva. I'm just trying to recover from double elbow surgery, taking my time to not fast track my recovery…unless it was a big fight against Anderson Silva.
Jeffrey Harris: Do you have a timetable for your next fight? Or when you would like to fight next?
Cung Le: Not at this point!
Jeffrey Harris: You recently got to work with Wong Kar Wai, a tremendous filmmaker who is internationally renowned. How did you like getting to work with him on The Grandmaster?
Cung Le: He is an amazing director! I learned so much from him and got a chance to pick his brain.
Jeffrey Harris: What is your next film project? Is it "Targets"?
Cung Le: We are currently in talks for a few different projects, "Targets" being one.
Jeffrey Harris: You live in California and you've worked with some big names in Hollywood. What is it like to meet and then train with a legend like Van Damme?
Cung Le: It was really fun to work with Van Damme! I didn't really train with him, but gave him a few nutritional and supplementation tips, like our trip to Whole Foods. I remember during one of our takes, we lightly sparred, which I have a home clip of.
Jeffrey Harris: Is it weird or surreal when you meet these guys such as Eli Roth or Channing Tatum, and they want to train with you and learn from you?
Cung Le: Just being on set and becoming good friends with both, it's just like "friends working out with friends!"
Jeffrey Harris: Strikeforce recently closed its doors. This was the promotion where you started your MMA career and became a champion. Strikeforce sort of became this little promotion that could and you guys really got the ball rolling on MMA in Calforrnia and drew some impressive crowds there that even at times rivaled the UFC. Was it rewarding to be a part of that and if you could, maybe share one of your fonder memories of Strikeforce?
Cung Le: Being apart of the first Strikeforce event in San Jose in 2006 and my title fight against Frank Shamrock would be my top memories regarding my Strikeforce career.
Jeffrey Harris: How many fights do you currently have left on your UFC deal?
Cung Le: Three.
Jeffrey Harris: Do you think you could sign another deal when the current one is finished or do you want to just take it fight by fight?
Cung Le: I'm going to take it one fight at a time!
Jeffrey Harris: Finally are there any people you would like to thank or any sponsors you would like to mention or give a shout out to?
Cung Le: Thanks to all the fans for all of their support, thank you UFC for the amazing fights that I've had and… Watch out you'll see what's next!
Thank you to Cung Le for taking the time to speak with us. The Man with the Iron Fists featuring Le is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.