This was a big weekend for the UFC, as they made their debut in China with a card headlined by Cung Le and Rich Franklin‘s Middleweight fight. Le was a fairly solid underdog at the books, but he was able to make short work of Franklin and score a big one punch KO half way thru round 1.
So what does this set up for Le? Despite being an athlete with a respectable competition reord in San Shou, and despite having a solid 9-2 MMA record and a 2 fight winning streak, it is difficult to see much future for Le.
A quick cruise through the UFC’s Middleweight roster tells the reader that Le is probably the 2nd or 3rd best most skilled striker in the division, giving champion Anderson Silva obvious credit as #1 and including Vitor Belfort in the mix of the top three. After that the drop off is steep, as you have a lot of heavy hitters, but not any truly technical strikers.
A lot hinges on next week’s GSP-Condit fight, as a GSP win will likely set up a superfight with Silva. But if GSP looks flat, or loses, who could Silva face in a match before he faces Jon Jones at the end of the year? believe it or not, Le has worked himself into a viable option.
Le would certainly come in as a massive underdog, probably at around 10 to 1 in a fight with Anderson Silva, but he is a draw in terms of fanbase, and he is highly skilled at what he does. With Le’s other career in movies, a high profile, high paying match is also probably needed to keep him motivated.
Le would have big disadvantages in experience in MMA, in height and reach and probably in speed and power as well. Le has appeared to tire later in matches as well, and it would be a five round fight.
But Le has the skills to operate at a high level. Le may not be able to beat Silva at the end of the day, but this could be a ‘fun’ fight, to use UFC President Dana White’s terminology.
The match is by no means a foregone conclusion, but keep it in mind as things develop. The UFC has to want to put Silva back in the ring as soon as possible, and of course the GSP option might not work out. Anderson Silva- Cung Le is not too far down the list of possibilities after this weekend. And hey, funnier things have happened.