One of MMA’s most exciting fighters returns to the cage this weekend when former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le battles Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night 48 in China.
Le has gained some attention this week after a published photo of him showed a shredded body, with veins bulging and muscles blaring. It’s a body that is all the more impressive considering he’s 42 years old.
Le is one of MMA’s most enigmatic fighters. He might have been one of the sport’s most popular icons had he decided to fight sooner. He made his MMA debut at the age of 34, rising to stardom under the tutelage of Scott Coker in the original Strikeforce.
Before MMA, Le was an undefeated kickboxing sensation. The San Jose, California-resident decided to move to MMA at a time when MMA was experiencing its mainstream breakthrough in the U.S.
Still at 42, Le is still one of the sport’s most dynamic fighters. He is probably the best leg striker in the MMA. He delivers movie-style kicks. They are dramatic and flashy, and most importantly, powerful. Le can knock anyone out with one of his kicks. He famously broke Frank Shamrock’s forearm with a kick that Shamrock attempted to block.
His first fight with Scott Smith, a fight Le lost, is one of MMA’s classics. He avenged that loss with a KO victory over smith. He nearly knocked out Wanderlei Silva in his UFC debut, before getting caught himself with several punches.
In addition to starting late, Le’s MMA career has also been affected by his lack of cage activity. Like pro wrestling’s The Rock, Le has had movie opportunities thrown at him and Le has wisely accepted him.
In his biggest role Le co-starred in the film Tekken, as well as the movies Pandorum and Fighting. He had a lead role in the 2012 film Dragon Eyes, with Jean-Claude Van Damme. He also appeared in The Man with the Iron Fists.
Le hasn’t fought in the UFC in nearly two years, since he knocked out legend Rich Franklin with, surprisingly, a punch, not a kick.
Le will have his work cut out for him against the 35-year-old Bisping, a hard puncher. But in some ways, the Bisping might be tailor-made for Le. Bisping comes forward, wants to win fights by knockout and is fearless. Le usually shines against fighters who like to fight and not win on points.
Le has yet to emerge as a big-time MMA star, but a dramatic win over Bisping might change all that. It would be his biggest victory yet, and just might push Le into the title shot picture. The possibility of a 43-year-old Le wearing MMA gold would be a deserving cap to an exciting career and for a guy who makes every one of his fights ultra exciting.