These days Cung Le is known as that guy who knocked out Rich Franklin in the UFC.
Back in 2009, however, Le was one of Strikeforce’s rising stars, a former middleweight champion and a Hollywood actor in the making.
So when he stepped inside the cage on Dec. 19, 2009, live on Showtime, Le was a fighter with a lot of promise and potential, and envisioned to dominate the sport. No one ever expected the veteran Scott Smith to be able to defeat him, much less knock him out.
The fight was staged in Le’s hometown of San Jose, California. In Le’s prior fight he defeated legend Frank Shamrock by TKO, after breaking Shamrock’s arm with a kick. Le won the title that night, but gave it up to film a movie. On Dec. 19, Le returned to the cage in a non-title fight.
As expected, Le dominated Smith with his kicks, strikes and overall karate style. He dominated Smith, knocking him down with a big spinning back kick in the first round. Le took him down and then pounded him. After Smith managed to standup, Le just kicked him. At the end of the round, Le landed 45 of 70 strikes. Smith hit on just 4.
The second round was more of the same, although Smith connected with a few punches to end Round 2, giving the fighter a dim hope of a miracle in third round.
Le seemed to only gain strength in the final round. He knocked him down with a spinning back kick. He connected with a spinning backfist. At one point, he lifted Smith and then sent him crashing to the ground. The fight seemed over.
But Smith, who had developed the nickname “The Comeback Kid” for his knockout comebacks over Pete Sell and Benji Radach, wasn’t out of it — not by a longshot.
With about two minutes left in the round, Smith caught Le with a left hook as he was coming in. A few punches later Le collapsed to his stomach, and Smith finished him off. If you ever want to hear three announcers absolutely lose it during a live call, watch the fight. Mauro Ranallo, Stephen Quadros and Frank Shamrock were hysterical over the upset victory.
Seconds after the referee stopped the fight, Ranallo yelled, “Miracle in San Jose!”
The victory was a surprising Christmas present for Smith and a stunning setback for Le in his return to the cage. Smith gave Le his first loss and brought the Vietnamese phenom back down to earth.
Le would go on to knock Smith out in the 2010 rematch, but for one night nearly four years ago, Smith shocked the MMA world.
Watch the video below