Cung Le may not know how many fights he has left inside the cage, but he is certain there is only one that matters in the here and now.
At 40 years old, the AKA-trained fighter is heading into the final chapter of his storied career in combat sports, and adding a victory over former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin, would be another hefty accomplishment in an already impressive collection.
The two men square off this Saturday in the main event of UFC of Fuel TV 6 in what promises to be an action-packed scrap. Much like Franklin, the former Sanshou kickboxing champion made his name settling fights on the strength of his striking skills. While their respective styles have glaring differences, Le is excited to test his versatile attack against Franklin's high-output approach.
"I believe Rich Franklin is a major threat in the Octagon," Le stated in a release provided by the UFC. "He's got good boxing, he's a well-rounded fighter, and he's big for the weight. But he's got to get through me, so I'm very excited. My strikes will be coming like lightning and thunder come November 10th"
Following a tough loss in his UFC debut against Wanderlei Silva, Le rebounded with a decision victory over Patrick Cote at UFC 148 in July. It was a gritty, three-round showing from Le as he notched his first victory on the sport's biggest stage.
Franklin is also coming into the fight fresh off a win of his own. The Cincinnati native once again bested "The Axe Murderer" in their rematch at UFC 147. Having previously faced the MMA legend, Le was impressed with Franklin's performance.
"I thought he did a fantastic job," Le said. "He had a great game plan against Wanderlei and he fought very smart. He has a lot of heart. I thought it was over in the second round and he pulled through, and that's the warrior's heart pulling through. I definitely know it will be a tough fight for me, but I know that I got what it takes to win as well."
Much like Le's striking style, decisions in MMA tend to come fast and furious. In early July, the UFC announced their first event in China. Two days later, after exiting the Octagon following his victory over Cote, UFC President Dana White offered Le the opportunity to headline the event. Although he was battered and bruised from the three-round battle, the Vietnamese-born fighters was honored to be presented with the opportunity.
"When Dana White first asked me, following my fight with Patrick Cote in July, I was in a wheel chair, getting pushed to the post-fight press conference," Le stated. "I was kind of upset and kind of bummed in that I didn't think I was going to be able to do it because I thought my foot was broken.
"I was honored to be asked, but when I finally got cleared to fight, I was really excited and happy that this opportunity came up and that the UFC would put me up for the main event in China. This is a big honor for me."
In addition to the high-profile bouts that continue to come his way, Le is steadily carving out his lane in other areas outside of the cage. With roles in Jean Claude Van Damme's Dragon Eyes and the recently released The Man With the Iron Fists directed by Wu Tang Clan mastermind RZA, Le's stock in Hollywood is on a steady climb. How long he will decide to carry both careers is a decision Le will eventually face, but for now, he's content to take things as they come.
"I was pretty much going to retire after the last Strikeforce fight," Le explained. "The only way I was going to continue fighting was if I got a chance to fight in the UFC and that happened. I'm here today and I'm glad I did it.
"I'm taking it one day at a time. I'm here now and a lot of people thought that after the Wanderlei fight I was going to retire. Then I had one more fight against Patrick and they thought I was going to retire. But now I'm against Rich Franklin and I'm still here. One fight at a time, one movie at a time, one day at a time."
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