Josh Hedges, Zuffa LLC, via Getty Images
Cung Le was a heavy underdog going into UFC Macau against Rich Franklin. 2:17 into the first round and a knocked out Franklin lay on the canvas while Le celebrated on the Octagon fence. Does this mean Cung Le is suddenly relevant in the UFC?
Cung Le defied the odds makers who had his opponent Rich Franklin heavily favored to win at UFC Macao: Franklin vs. Le but can the 40-year-old movie actor and part-time UFC fighter continue to defy Father Time?
It only took Le 2:17 to leave Franklin out cold on the Octagon floor, but I expect it will take quite a while for UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to figure out what to do with him from here.
- Winner of Alan Belcher vs Yushin Okami
This fight makes perfect sense if you see Le as an ordinary fighter in his prime, but he's not. He's an undersized, 40-year-old. Either Belcher or Okami would justly go into this fight as a heavy favorite. There's some promotional logic if Belcher wins in booking Belcher vs Le because it would dramatically raise Belcher's profile while MW champ Anderson Silva is out fighting Super Fights against Georges St. Pierre and/or Jon Jones in 2013, but there's absolutely nothing in it for Le beyond a pay day.
- Jake Shields
Shields would actually be kind of intriguing for Le since he would definitely, desperately trying to take Le down. Could be the fight where Le finally convinces the doubters by showing his wrestling is no joke, but don't hold your breath.
- Brian Stann
On the Fuel TV post-fight program Stann repeatedly mentioned how "honored" he would be to face Le. I think it would be a great fight for Stann to build his name against a smaller, older fighter but I don't see what's in it for Le except a pay day.
- Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza
- Anderson Silva
Only if Jones and GSP don't want to fight Silva. Wouldn't be fair at all to Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, or Alan Belcher, but business is business and other than Bisping, no one else in the division is nearly as high profile as Le. Nonetheless, Le doesn't merit a title shot.
MMA Mania's Brian Hemminger had a different take, one that's closer to my sentiments:
I believe that the best next step for Cung Le isn't a title fight. In fact, I don't think it's a fight against anyone. In my opinion, the perfect next step for Le is retirement.
Why not? How many fighters get to go out on top with a huge knockout win in a main event? It's a dream scenario!
He's 40 years old. What else does he have to prove? Do you really think he can beat Anderson Silva? He's not doing straight-to-DVD movies with Jean-Claude Van Damme anymore. He's finally getting really big roles that will get him paid in a very real way.
Could he keep going? Sure. I just don't see the point. I like Le as a fighter and as a person too much to see him keep plugging away and possibly tarnishing all that he's worked for.
He's earned the right to do that if he wants, but I'd rather see him go out riding the momentum of the biggest win of his life.
I don't expect Le or the UFC to listen, but I agree that retirement from the cage is the most logical next step for Cung Le.
From Le's post-fight comments in the Octagon yesterday, Le might be thinking the same thing.
"I love to do martial arts. I love to compete. If I can do it for as long as I live, I'll do it. But I know my clock is ticking," Le said after the fight.