Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le did a very good job bouncing back from a harsh loss to Wanderlei Silva. Matched against Patrick Cote, Le tapped back into the striking prowess that made him a draw for Strikeforce, and out-pointed his opponent en route to a unanimous decision win.
While the 40-year-old is nowhere close to a title shot—and likely never will be—he is still popular and entertaining enough that the UFC wants him around. With the middleweight division as it is, there are several solid matchups that can be made that will keep fans entertained...and the UFC in the money.
With his striking still on-point and his well-rounded skills still capable of keeping fighters honest, he proves a tough challenge for up-and-comers and a fun opponent for other wily veterans.
There were two middleweight fights on the UFC 148 card. One was Le vs. Cote, and the other? Constantinos Philippou vs. Riki Fukuda.
Philippou out-worked and out-landed Fukuda, and quietly has a four-fight winning streak in the UFC. With his other wins coming over Jorge Rivera, Jared Hamman and Court McGee, it is about time for Philippou to have a step up in competition.
A solid boxer out of one of Matt Serra's gyms, Philippou would be a tough—but beatable—opponent for Le. Le, meanwhile, would be a great barometer to figure out if Philippou is a stepping stone or somebody working for a title shot.
Obviously, the scheduling could not be better and both men could easily be ready in time to grant Dana White's wish of Le appearing near the top of the UFC on Fuel TV 6 card in China this coming November.
You know this guy, right? No? Oh...well, he's pretty good.
As somebody who has done battle all across Europe, Francis Carmont had a good bit of experience before he pitched a tent in Quebec and joined Georges St-Pierre at the Tristar Gym. Since, he has won twice in the UFC and could be helpful in building Le's brand with UFC fans.
Carmont is a relatively inexperienced middleweight, but has power in his hands and a strong submission game. He is also in the perfect gym to have a camp built around fighting somebody like Le.
While Le would be favored against the Frenchman, Carmont is by no means a can for Le. Le's greatest weakness remains his cardio, which is not a problem for Carmont and with 25 professional fights, Carmont should have the savvy to keep himself from getting caught by one of Le's flashy kicks.
Both fighters, though, are more than capable of ending a fight early, and can keep things interesting through three rounds.
Chris Leben's suspension runs out just in time for a fight with Cung Le in China.
So who remembers this guy?
Seriously, Leben has completely fallen off the map since being suspended for testing positive for a bunch of painkillers, even though he was a top-ten middleweight less than a year ago. One has to give kudos to Chael Sonnen for staying relevant through his suspension, compared to Leben.
Anyway, the iron-chinned Chris Leben has been around the block a few times now since he graduated from The Ultimate Fighter's first season, and his fights often result in fireworks.
As stated, Dana White expressed a strong interest in having Le fight on the UFC on Fuel TV 6 card in China. That event happens to take place five days after Chris Leben's suspension runs out. Is that a sign or what?
Le vs. Leben would be an entertaining bout for sure and would be a great way for either fighter to assert themselves as one of the best middleweights in the world. Le's finesse against Leben's grittiness?
Just thinking about that is fun...
Ronny Markes is another fighter that has come in under the radar and could use the spotlight that a match against Cung Le would bring.
A training partner of featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Renan Barao and Diego Nunes, Markes is already rubbing shoulders with some strong fighters. He is currently sitting on a 13-1 record, even though he is just 24 years old.
He is young, he is hungry and he could certainly become a top middleweight in the near future. Cung Le would be an excellent way to see just how close he is to that goal.
Granted, Le would be a tough challenge for Markes. That said, young fighters are always willing to bite off more than their presumed chewing abilities and as such, would probably jump at the chance to face the popular veteran.
The fight would likely be exciting and holds the same sort of appeal as BJ Penn vs. Rory MacDonald.
Rich Franklin vs. Cung Le is a fight that fans should push for.
It was really disappointing that this match did not happen last night. Sure, Franklin gave fans a gem in his exciting brawl with Wanderlei Silva. And yeah, Le vs. Cote was still a fun fight.
But Cung Le vs. Rich Franklin? Mmm Mmm MmmMmmMmm. That has fight of the year all over it.
This fight requires very little effort to pitch. Both fighters are crafty strikers coming off wins and are interested in making title runs. This would make for a very strong headline for a TV card or co-main event on a PPV.
Scheduling, again, makes this a distinct possibility, with both fighters having recently battled. By far, this is the most enticing matchup for Le, and would also help Franklin as he works his way towards a title shot.
Ok, guys...this is something to bombard Dana White over Twitter about. Get to it!