We're down to only two days until UFC 148, and I'm back with even more fighter insight for the hungry masses. Cung Le vs. Patrick Cote is a dynamite match-up and is well worth being a main card bout. Both guys have something to prove with Patrick just coming back to the UFC and Cung looking to secure his first victory within the organization. In a recent interview with TapouT Radio, Cung discusses his fight camp and his upcoming movie, The Man With The Iron Fists (which just so happens to be a Quentin Tarantino film).
Stephie Daniels: Talk a little about your training camp for this fight.
Cung Le: I brought out a buddy, actually fought him twice, Scott Sheely. He trained Matt Brown and Justin Edwards. We had a great gameplan for Rich Franklin and everything was really coming together, and then the UFC called me and changed my opponent. We all know that injuries are going to happen, so instead of stressing about it, or getting upset, we put our heads together and started getting together a new gameplan. We're still on this massive card. Let's move. Let's rock and roll. That's our attitude.
Stephie Daniels: You've managed to keep yourself relatively fit, and to my knowledge, haven't had to pull out of a fight due to injury. What are some of the things you do to recover in between training sessions to keep yourself injury free?
Cung Le: I wouldn't exactly say I'm always injury free. There's always some kind of injury if you'[re training hard. This fight I think I've done things right, and I feel really good. If I had to narrow it down, the biggest key is to listen to your body. If you feel sluggish, or your muscles are burning, it's basically time to call the session or maybe even the entire day.
Stephie Daniels: From a purely physical standpoint, Cote and Franklin have very similar body types. What part of your camp or training partners did you alter, if any, to accommodate Patrick's style?
Cung Le: Rich's style would have been different because he's a southpaw, and the punches and kicks would've come from different angles. Patrick Cote is orthodox and has real good boxing, ok wrestling. He says he's been training with the Canadian National Wrestling Team for a year and a half now. I think he has a brown belt in jiu jitsu. I'm looking at an excited and hungry Patrick Cote, but I'm also hungry for my first win in the UFC.
I feel really good and I feel really confident. That's the key. Everything has been clicking. My sparring and not being so banged up makes a difference. My last camp, mixing it up with King Mo and all the guys at AKA, those guys train so hard all the time over there, and my body, after coming off several months of doing movies and being away was a big adjustment. I was constantly trying to heal up from one injury or another with my last camp, but for this one, I think I've got it down better, and have learned from the mistakes of my previous one.
It's actually better for me that I'm fighting a guy who likes to talk smack and isn't a nice guy like Rich Franklin. He made some videos that I kind of cracked up over where he mocked me and the acting stuff, so you know, it makes it more like the Frank Shamrock fight. Me, I don't talk much. I just do all my talking inside the cage.
Stephie Daniels: With Cote putting out videos, and Shamrock doing lots of smack talk before your fight with him, how do you prevent yourself from getting caught up in the mental warfare aspect?
Cung Le: Being a refugee growing up and not knowing English, it makes your skin pretty thick. Stuff like that just motivates me more. In a way, I think it works against their gameplan. He can talk all he wants, but while he's talking, I'm doing my extra push-ups, my extra bag work and my extra grappling.
Stephie Daniels: Do you feel that people tend to underestimate your willingness to stand and trade to a point that you either put them away or they put you away?
Cung Le: Well, you know, I'm not sure how many people have followed my career from the beginning. I've had many wars. Right now, I'm not really focused on what people are thinking or saying. If you get caught up in that, it just affects your mood, and your yin and yang balance. For me, I'm just happy with all that I have. I wake up every day, and I have a roof over my head, a great wife and kids, and I feel blessed. I fight for all the fans. The ones that support me and even the ones that don't. I plan on squeezing all that I can into the latter part of my career and I plan to bring it every time.
Stephie Daniels: When you say "squeeze everything you can into the latter part of my career", are you seeing an end in sight, or are you just taking it one fight at a time?
Cung Le: I'm taking it fight by fight. I'm 40 now, and I feel great, but I'm looking at it as I'm lucky to have gotten this far. Every time that I step inside that cage, I act like it's going to be my last time. Anything can happen, and you've got to be prepared.
Stephie Daniels: You've just finished filming a Quentin Tarantino production. You've made leaps and bounds in your movie career, so I have to ask if getting your first win in the UFC ranks as high as landing a role of this magnitude?
Cung Le: I take my career as a fighter just as seriously as I take my career as an actor. Every fight, whether it's UFC or Strikeforce, is a big deal to me. This fight is on a huge card, so it's kind of like the big budget project of my MMA career. I'm a supporting lead, along with Patrick Cote, in this project, so I'm definitely going to do my part and try to steal the show. Everything I do, I put 185% into it, so for me, it's go big or go home.
Stephie Daniels: What has it been like, working with such a talented cast and crew for The Man With The Iron Fists?
Cung Le: Well, the first person that invited me over was RZA. I was in LA one day, taking meetings, and he invited me over to his studio. When I went over there, he just said to me, 'I want you to play Bronze Lion.' I told him, 'Sure, do you have a script?' He told me he had one and that he wanted me to read it and tell him what I thought of it. Then he was like, 'You know what? I want to know if you're in or not right now.' I said, 'Before I even read it?' and he said, 'Yeah, it's a good part', so I shook his hand and told him I was in. I was already signed to do Grandmasters and Dragon Eyes. Next thing you know, I was doing three movies, back to back.
Follow Cung via his Twitter, @CungLe185