A talk with Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le – PRO MMA exclusive interview

37-year-old Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le is a man of many talents. Prior to entering the MMA cage, Cung was a Sanshou kickboxing champion with a professional record of 17-0. He also holds a 3-0 record in K-1. The guy has won more championships than most can count.

Using sidekicks for jabs and legs as fast as most fighters’ arms, Cung may very well have the best kicks in MMA. Combine that with very good boxing and a strong wrestling base, and what you have is a legitimate threat to any top ten middleweight.

PRO MMA (promma.info) caught up with Cung recently to talk about his defeat of Frank Shamrock for the Strikeforce Middleweight Title, his addition to the Round 5 action figure collection, his recent acting gigs, and when we might get to see him back in action.

CUNG LE interview:
[podcast]http://promma.info/audio/cungle.mp3[/podcast]

Along with Fedor Emelianenko, Gina Carano, Dan Henderson, “Shogun” Rua, and Matt Serra, Cung Le is part of the new “Series 4” Round 5 action figures released in July. “I was just honored to be part of this whole action figure with Round 5. It’s definitely like a dream,” Le said.

Cung talked about his involvement with Round 5 and how he helped in the creation process. “I just took a whole bunch of pictures from every angle, every little detail, like my hair, to my face, to my muscles they wanted to capture,” explained Le. “I took a whole bunch of pictures and sent them to them.”

Cung talked about starring in the new science fiction horror film entitled “Pandorum” along with Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. “That was an amazing experience,” he said. “That was the first time I really got to put in like day after day like 14 and 15 hour days nonstop. We were out in Germany — the director was amazing.”

Another new movie Cung recently starred in alongside Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard is an action flick released in July entitled “Fighting.”

One advantage to being an actor who is also a professional athlete and starring in this type of movie is Cung got to do most of the action shots and fight scenes himself. “I did about 95 percent of my own stunts,” said Le.

Cung’s own life could be made into a movie. At just three years of age, he and his mother escaped Saigon, South Vietnam when it fell under communist rule in 1975. They made their new home in San Jose, Calif.

However, it was not easy growing up in a new world as a young foreigner with only his mother to depend on. Cung talked about those early years and why his mother enrolled him in martial arts class. “I learned to get beat up in elementary school. When I was almost ten years old my mom figured I needed to learn to defend myself so she put me in martial arts,” explained Cung.

“I started out in Taekwondo and I eventually got into traditional kung fu. Then I got into wrestling in seventh grade and wrestled all the way until my second year in junior college. I was a high school All-American and Junior College All-American. Thanks to wrestling I am able to defend all the takedowns in MMA.”

Cung has come a long way since those days as a child. Cung talked about winning the Strikeforce Middleweight Title from Frank Shamrock and how he broke Frank’s arm. “I noticed every time I would kick to the head he would just block with one hand, so I just kept kicking,” said Cung. “It was not the first arm I have broken.”

Cung has not fought since March 2008 when he took the title from Shamrock. Yet, he insists he is still maintaining his MMA skills. “If I’m not on the set I’m in the gym,” he said.

Because Cung has finished all six of his opponents by strikes, people have often wondered what Cung’s ground game looks like. “I have a blue belt in jiu-jitsu,” said Le. “I’m not like that high level where I’m submitting people but I’m good enough to defend against submissions and I enjoy BJJ.”

Some people would like to see Cung Le as part of the UFC. He discussed why that will not happen anytime in the foreseeable future. “Scott Coker has been my promoter since my Sanshou kickboxing days,” said Cung.

He also knows Dana White’s feelings on fighters who are a part of EA Sports new MMA video game. “I signed the EA deal before Dana mentioned anything. So I guess, you know, you heard Dana,” said Cung.

From the looks of things, Cung Le has set himself up for a great future after fighting. In the meantime however, he has a middleweight title to defend. Most likely by the end of this year or early 2010 we will see Cung back in the cage throwing those side kick and looking to knock out his next opponent.

By:  Jack Bratcher

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