Cung Le Returns, Seeking to Melt Hands of Steel

Erik FontanezCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2009

This Saturday, MMA fans will bear witness to the return of a remarkable striker in Cung Le when he takes on seasoned middleweight Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith .

The former Strikeforce middleweight champion seeks to continue his MMA career at the Strikeforce: Evolution event at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

Having spent the last 21 months away from MMA to concentrate on making movies, many are suspect of Le and his fighting condition for his bout with Smith.

Spending an extended time away from any sport can put, even the best athletes, in a place where others seem to be performing better than them.

Will this be the case for Cung Le?

The popular opinion might be yes, Le will face more than just a fighter at Strikeforce: Evolution. Le will have a case of ring/cage rust to shake off of his 37-year-old joints and limbs.

While having to shake off the rust, Le will contend with a man who’s strikes are a tremendous example of his nickname, “Hands of Steel.”

Coming back to MMA against an opponent the caliber of Smith will be no easy task. Even though Smith has had a less than impressive record of 5-4 with 1 no-contest in his last 10 outings, Le should not go into this fight like it will be walk in the park.

Smith has the capability of putting an opponent down with great force.

In his fight with Benji Radach , Smith showed incredible poise against the former IFL stand-out. Being out-struck early in the fight, Scott came back strong, ultimately winning the bout by KO.

Both fighters were winded coming into the third round of their affair. Smith maintained more so than Radach that night in San Jose, capturing the victory and stapling himself as a middleweight with punches to watch out for.

Le will, undoubtedly, utilize his strong background in Sanshou and attempt to dominate Smith on his feet, as he should. Smith, although heavy handed, will not be able to match strikes with, the movie star, Le.

Despite Hollywood backdrops and scripted lines being the recent focus of Le’s life, his natural ability to compete at the highest level will make the difference in the fight with Smith. The rustiest Cung Le is still quicker than an in-shape Scott Smith.

The incredible quickness that Cung Le has in his kicks is some of the most remarkable in all of MMA. Look to see Le take advantage of this. Strong kicks to the midsection by Le will surely lead to strikes to the head of Smith.

This is a practice that, sadly, is not used a great amount in MMA. In any fight, Strikes to the body wear down opponents best, and Le makes sure spectators are aware of this.

Brian Warren , for example, stood up with Le and fell victim to numerous spinning back kicks to the mid section.

Warren was obviously worn down and out of breath towards the end of the first round, opening up opportunities for Le to capitalize with head strikes; a similar fate may be sealed for Smith.

Scott Smith might have found it best to fill his training camp with kickboxing and Muay Thai training partners, because Cung Le will return to mixed martial arts looking to kick in a door or two towards reclaiming his middleweight title.

Regardless of having “hands of steel,” Smith will have trouble making contact with the former Strikeforce champ’s frame, as Le’s elusiveness will prevent any large power shots from Smith.

Look to see Cung Le make his return to MMA at Strikeforce: Evolution on Dec. 19. Ring rust will shake off of Le as he takes out any aggression from bad movie reviews on Scott Smith.