Photo: Esther Lin / MMAFighting.com
This is a guest post by Stephie "Crooklyn" Daniels. Follow Stephie on Twitter @CrooklynMMA
With a new movie ready for release, and another big name fight set for UFC 148 against Rich Franklin, Cung Le has a full plate. The San Jose native is gearing up for what should be another stellar outing in the octagon. His last bout didn't net a win for him in the record books, but the stand-up war he presented to Wanderlei Silva proved Le is more than willing to do what's necessary to provide an exciting fight, which is a win in the books of many fans, both hardcore and casual. In a recent interview, Cung discussed his upcoming meeting with Rich Franklin.
SD: What's the overall feeling about your next fight being announced against another big name veteran in Rich Franklin?
CL: I'm honored to be fighting a former UFC champion. I'm very excited to get back in the octagon and fight my heart out. It's probably going to be a barn burner. We're both going to be in really good shape. He's coming off a long layoff, and he's cutting down. Cutting weight is no fun. I recently read somewhere that he has a sweet tooth, and I also have one. I think his is for donuts or something, and mine is for chocolate. When we step in the cage, and it's all said and done, maybe the winner can spring for either chocolate or donuts.
SD: Do you have any concerns about the size difference between the two of you?
CL: If I worry, then I put myself at a disadvantage. I go into every fight confident, and try to stick to my gameplan. That's what I have to do, instead of worrying how big he is or how much more reach he has. I can put my combinations and kicks together. I can be the one with the advantage.
SD: At this early stage, do you already see any weaknesses that you can capitalize on?
CL: I haven't really broken down tapes yet. I'll be putting in my film study, and then I'll come up with a solid gameplan with my team. Right now, I've got to look at it as he's a well rounded fighter, and he's going to be ready to bring the fight to me, which is a good thing, instead of me chasing someone around.
SD: What are your thoughts on your last fight with Wanderlei Silva (UFC 139)?
CL: Wanderlei came in with a great gameplan. Watching all of his fights, he always come forward. For him to get on his bicycle and backpedal, you know, have me come towards him, definitely threw me off. Having me take the fight to him threw me off, because my whole camp, from beginning to end, was having people come at me. I'm usually pretty good at chasing people down, but I didn't train that at all. I was on the defense...it was a good gameplan for him. I've got to take my hat off to him and his camp for coming up with a solid gameplan. My trainer, Javier Mendez, got on me a lot, because when I had Wanderlei hurt, instead of staying on him with punches, because I was already right there, I stepped back and started throwing wheel kicks, trying to look for that spectacular knockout, and it didn't work out. My trainer told me that was dumb on my part, but, you live and learn. It's in the past, and I've accepted
the loss. I was honored to have fought Wanderlei. Now, it's time for me to move forward and get ready to throw down with Rich Franklin.
SD: Your fight is quite a ways off, so when do you start your training camp?
CL: I'm starting the conditioning part now. I was in really good shape for the Wanderlei fight. Training with big guys like King Mo, I get banged up, so it's a good thing I was in great shape, because when King Mo busted me up a little bit, I was able to recover fairly easily. With this long training camp, you just haveto try to stay healthy and make sure you don't over-train, so I try to set my camp up in three different stages. Phase one is strength and conditioning, with a lot of drilling and mitt work. Phase two, we start cranking it up with a lot of sparring, wrestling and grappling. Phase three is rehab and being focused. It's about being mentally and physically prepared for the fight.
SD: Who are you working on your ground game with?
CL: All the guys from AKA. They're all so good. They've got a new Brazilian jiu jitsu coach now, a guy from Checkmat. He's awesome. I haven't really had the chance to get in there and work with him yet, but as soon as I start phase two of my training, then I'm going to get in there and work with him. I'll be working a lot on my wrestling and on my scrambles, so that if Rich wants to take me down, I'm going to make him work for it.
SD: You used to work closely with Dave Camarillo. Do you still do any work with him?
CL: No, not since the breakup with Camarillo and AKA. He's still a cool guy to me, but my loyalty is to Javier Mendez. I don't really like to run around training in a bunch of different locations. It's either my location or the AKA headquarters.
SD: Your nose was quite a mess immediately following the Silva fight, yet your recent photos show very little to no residual damage. What type surgery did you have to repair it, and did you have to have more than one?
CL: I didn't even have the surgery until two weeks later. The nose break wasn't actually that bad. The cardinal rule is when you get your nose broke, you don't blow your nose, but when I was walking back to my corner, I blew my nose to get all that crap out. Of course it blew up, so it might have looked really bad at the time, but it wasn't that bad. Don't get me wrong, it was broken, and I had surgery to fix it. Funny thing, Asians already have flat noses, so with this being my third surgery...I'm just glad my doctor was really good. He's gotten it a lot straighter than the other two times.
SD: How are you enjoying your experience in the UFC overall?
CL: The UFC takes really good care of me. They make sure everything is okay, and a lot of their people called to check up on me. It's really awesome.
Even though this fight is more than 3 months away, I can't help but be excited about it. I hesitate to use the word epic, but I have a hard time finding a word that will adequately describe this firecracker fight. I have high hopes that it will live up to all my expectations.
Follow Cung Le via his Twitter @CungLe185