Middleweight Cung Le rose to prominence due to his time in Strikeforce before ultimately transitioning over to the UFC in late 2011. Though the organization was functioning at a fairly high level when Le departed, it deteriorated as 2012 progressed and was ultimately axed last month.
The 40-year old Le was recently asked to reflect on his relationship with Strikeforce, revealing he had no regrets about making a move to the Octagon but couldn’t help but feel sorrow when he learned Strikeforce was being disbanded.
“I was sad. I’m not going to lie. I was definitely sad,” said Le to Fightline. “I had a long history with Strikeforce, and was a former Strikeforce middleweight champ, and I know how much hard work Scott Coker put into it. It’s hard to put into words, but I think Scott Coker, he did good for the sport, and I respect everything he’s done for the sport and for me.”
“I feel blessed to be part of the UFC. I really enjoy fighting for the UFC,” he quickly added.
Le went on to explain the toughest fight of his career came under the Strikeforce banner, referring to a 2008 tilt with Frank Shamrock for the divisional belt.
“He just didn’t go down, and even after I broke his arm, he still tried to fight me with a broken arm. He was just tough,” offered Le. “It was one of those fights that, you know styles make fights, and he knew that the spin-kicks were coming and he caught me off guard a few times when I tried to do the spin-kicks. He threw me down in the opening round, and I got back on the spin-kicks and just started chipping away at him. I was trying for his face, but he kept blocking it and I broke his arm.”
As a member of the UFC, Le has gone 2-1 including a recent knockout of Rich Franklin. The San Shou striker spoke fondly of Franklin when asked to touch on the performance, though “Ace” received little courtesy in the cage considering the end result involved a brutal knockout.
“I have a lot of respect for Rich Franklin. He’s a great guy, great competitor, and former UFC champion. I believe it’s just a matter of time before he’s in the UFC Hall of Fame,” explained Le. “And I believe the sport should be that way, and it should be professional and you should have as much fun as you want before a fight, and when the Octagon door closes it’s time to take care of business.”
“After that, whoever is the better man should be buying the chocolate or the sweets,” he concluded.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC/STRIKEFORCE