Is There Any Chance Cung Le Can Beat Anderson Silva?

Matt MolgaardCorrespondent IIIJanuary 29, 2013

Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Cung Le (center) celebrates his win over Patrick Coto during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Anderson Silva’s manager Ed Soares recently told Yahoo Sports that when it comes to Silva’s next foe, “The only thing that comes to mind is -- and I don't even know that would be a possible fight -- Cung Le. [He's] coming off of three wins or something like that where he's got a little bit of a name.”

If you’re thinking that sounds preposterous, you’re absolutely correct.

Cung Le isn’t riding a three fight win-streak, he’s picked up just two consecutive W’s inside the octagon. And, while his name does boast some marquee appeal, at 40 years old, Le’s a fading fighter.

Le’s come up short twice in his last five outings—once to Scott Smith and once to Wanderlei Silva—and he was stopped in violent fashion on both occasions.

Among his three victories in the same five fight stretch, only Rich Franklin packs any true star power. Familiar or not, talented or not, neither Patrick Cote or Scott Smith qualify as household names.

In short, Le has virtually zero case for a shot at Silva’s crown. However, to his credit, Cung acknowledges this. He openly admitted to being a bit surprised by Soares’ mention of him as a potential foe for the longtime middleweight champion.

"I didn't do any campaigning. My name got thrown in the mix and I'm honored, so whatever happens from here is going to be up to Anderson and up to the UFC," Le stated on the MMA Hour.

While Le’s warrior spirit isn’t likely to lead to him refusing the fight, it certainly sounds as if even he understands that it’s an odd pairing.

Just the same, with the upper echelon of the middleweight division looking a tad murky, anything could happen. A Silva versus Le match likely draws a respectable Pay-Per-View figure, and at the end of the day, Dana White and the UFC aren’t opposed to making money. That alone means there’s a possibility that somehow this fight gets booked.

But, what if it did?

Is Cung Le even capable of turning in a competitive performance against “The Spider?”

Le’s looked markedly improved in his last two bouts. A rocky promotional debut against “The Axe Murderer” at UFC 139 seems to have opened the former San Shou champion’s eyes to the level of work and dedication required to compete among the world’s best.

Le looks fit, powerful, and still rather quick for a man pushing 41. His agility doesn’t seem to be declining too dramatically, and his fight IQ is still intact. In fact, he appears to be a fighter still learning, which is definitely the sign of a man who still holds designs on exerting successful physical showcases; Cung Le isn’t just around to put on fun fights, he’s here to win.

But at 5‘10“, Le enters a hypothetical collision with Silva at an immediate disadvantage. The stocky Californian will be outsized in every way imaginable. Silva holds a near-10 inch reach advantage over Le, stands inches (anywhere from two to five, depending upon which outlet you’re referencing) taller and has already proven big enough to stand toe to toe with some massive light heavyweights without being noticeably outsized.

But size aside, one must wonder, can Le match Silva—technically—in any department?

On paper Cung Le looks like the superior kickboxer. Inside the octagon is a different story. Le fights intelligent, calculated fights; Silva fights unpredictable and moves in almost inhuman fashion. The guy looks like a movie and redefines the term “effective MMA Muay Thai.”

Le is an awesome fighter, but Silva is in a league all his own.

Cung’s one-punch power may be a reliable enough tool to dispose of Rich Franklin, but Silva has very rarely looked susceptible to strikes. He’s as durable as they come, and his ability to roll with offensive attacks tends to keep him out of any serious danger. Couple that durability with some amazing elusive upper-body movement and it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which Cung Le puts the champion in a tough spot.

Le doesn’t bring a potent enough wrestling game to leave the champion in a compromising position, and we’ve yet to see the former Strikeforce standout secure a single submission victory in his mixed martial arts career. It isn’t exactly probable that he submits a very capable grappler like Silva.

In short, Le has little outside of a puncher’s chance at dethroning the champion. If these two fought 100 times, Silva likely walks away victorious at least 98 times. Those aren’t what I’d call favorable odds for Cung Le.

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