For the UFC 139, scheduled for November 19th, Cung Le will be facing ‘The Axe Murderer’ Vanderlie Silva, and not Vitor Belfort as originally planned. The reason for Belfort’s removal from the card have not been made clear.
This is a much more winnable fight for Cung Le, in my opinion. Though Silva remains a dangerous opponent, he has lost six of his last eight fights and though he has not fought frequently in the last five years, may be showing the mileage of over 40 fights in his MMA career.
Cung Le, though five years older than Silva at forty years old, is going to be coming off a very long layoff of over a year, and he has only eight total fights in his career. So aside from ring rust, Le is definitely the fresher athlete. Silva, on top of all his fights, has been brutally knocked out several times as well.
Belfort, for all his problems, as always been very explosive with his hands in the early going of a fight, and I believe that presented the biggest problem to Cung Le’s style, since he has proven to be a very methodical fighter. Holding off Belfort’s big rush was going to be a problem.
Silva can obviously hurt you as well, and he will finish if he sees you hurt, but he does not have the sheer explosiveness of Belfort.
And Le, despite having few fights in MMA, has competed his whole life in San Shou, so his ring rust may not be as much of a worry as for your average forty year old.
For all of Vanderlei’s good points, he still remains a bit of a flat footed fighter who moves forward and backward in straight lines. Face it, Silva has never really been a difficult target so he will be there to hit.
Le is a very marketable athlete, he has a massive Vietnamese following which is a market MMA knows nothing about. The fact that he has a more favorable matchup here may turn into a bonus for the sport, especially if he wins.
As for Vitor Belfort, as stated it is unclear why he is being pulled from the fight. But with Belfort you never know, because despite his physical gifts, he has always been a mental midget.