USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings at #18 at Middleweight, while Le is unranked, largely due to his inactivity.The PPV card airs on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
This fight was originally planned as Vitor Belfort vs. Cung Le, but when Belfort was forced to drop out, his countryman and rival Wanderlei Silva stepped in to take his place. The end result is a fight that, to be honest, has no real impact on the UFC Middleweight division, but is a lot of fun. Both Le and Wandy have highly entertaining styles, based primarily on striking. This is in many ways a kind of old school MMA battle - the Sanshou master vs. the wild Brazilian Muay Thai specialist. Obviously, both men possess deeper games than just their one discipline, but I would expect them to stand and duke it out here.
How do these two stack up?
Silva: 35 years old | 5'11" | 74" reach
Le: 39 years old | 5'10" | 69" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Wanderlei Silva is one of the true legends of the sport, but he joins Mirko Cro Cop as the big Pride names who just have not been able to get it going in the UFC. Since his return in 2007 for the huge Chuck Liddell dream fight at UFC 79, Silva is just 2-4. After dominating the Pride ranks for so many years, he has lost 6 of his last 8, with 4 of those 6 loses coming via brutal, lights-out KOs. There's no doubt he'll still come forward, still bring the crazy Axe Murderer aggression, but he is only getting older, with his chin taking more and more damage. You have to ask yourself how many more chances you will have to see this legend compete.
Cung Le is a unique fighter in the MMA landscape. The Vietnamese native started his fighting career in Sanshou where he earned a number of accolades throughout the 90's. He competed in other stand-up competitions, including a brief 3-0 run in K-1, before transitioning to MMA in 2006. As an MMA fighter, he became an immediate local draw for Strikeforce, as Le has a massive following in San Jose. His 2008 fight with Frank Shamrock was a big event for Strikeforce, with Le breaking the arm of his legendary opponent and claiming the Strikeforce Middleweight belt in the process. Since then, he has focused more on his acting career, with only 2 fights in that time (a 1-1 split with Scott Smith). Even though he is making his UFC debut, and he hasn't fought in over a year, don't be surprised if he gets the biggest ovation on Saturday.
Why should you care?
I love this fight. Two massively entertaining fighters coming together in what should be a wild affair. Add in what will hopefully be a rabid crowd, and you have a potential show-stealer right here.
More UFC 139 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.