At Sportsbook.com, Vietnamese Tae Kwon Do fighter Cung Le was favored to beat beloved legend Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva, who many fans considered past due on retirement.
Cung entered fighting’s ultimate proving ground with an impressive record of seven exciting wins and 1 loss.
Coming off an extended layoff, Cung looked nervous during the walkout before his hometown crowd in San Jose, CA. Though he won Fight of the Night honors for his performance, he fell to the brutal attack of The Axe Murderer’s swarming punches and knees.
Where did Cung Le go wrong? What could Le have done differently?
The core of Cung’s problem appeared to be his perception of his opponent and the specificity of his expectations going into the fight. He saw Wanderlei’s suspect chin as an opportunity.
Silva has lost six of his last 11 fights, four by KO. It seemed that Le envisioned highlight-reel wheel kick knockouts and was determined to make a big splash in front of his home crowd.
Tae Kwon Do is an art whose repertoire is 80 percent kicks. Kicks are much more resource-intensive than punches.
Le claimed the center of the octagon early in the first round, stalking the former PRIDE champion around the edge of the cage, throwing one potential fight finisher after another, into each, putting all.
When Le did stun Silva in the first, he went for a wheel kick but failed to close the deal. By the second round, he was tired and could not keep his kicks coming to hold The Axe Murderer at bay.
Le would have been better served to direct his kicks from Wanderlei’s head to his legs, thereby slowing the Brazilian’s rush, setting up the high kick and weakening Silva’s takedown defense, something Le could have leveraged in the third, had he made it.