by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
In what was one of MMA’s busiest 24-hour stretches, which saw two Strikeforce events in two separate states sandwich a Sengoku show from Japan, one of the biggest happenings was something that took place outside the ring.
After more than 20 months away from the fight game, onetime Strikeforce middleweight Champion Cung Le made the surprise announcement that he would be returning to action in December to take on the ever-dangerous Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith.
“I wasn’t planning to fight this year,” Le admitted to MMAWeekly.com. “I was getting ready to do a movie, a project that I’ve been working on from scratch – working with a writer on a script, getting a director – and the project got pushed to next year.
“My plan was to come back after I finished this project and start training to get back into the cage next year, but when I found out a couple weeks ago that the project would be pushed to next year, I spoke to (Strikeforce promoter) Scott Coker, and he asked me if I’d be interested in coming back.”
From there things quickly escalated into Le making his return to fighting, with the approval of one of his trainers.
“I wasn’t far from being out of fight shape, because I’ve been training with fighters when I had the time,” said Le. “(I was) getting Anthony Johnson ready for his fights, James Terry, and a bunch of other fighters.
“The first couple weeks went well, and Javier Mendez gave me the green light, thinking I would be fine to get back in and do a super fight.”
And what a fight it will be, as Le steps in to face possibly the most dangerous fight of his career in Scott Smith.
“I think it’s going to be a fantastic fight,” he exclaimed. “Scott Smith always comes to fight. We’re two exciting fighters who like to stand up and put on a show.”
While people are happy to hear of Le’s return to MMA, one can’t help but wonder what if he hadn’t relinquished his title, which was claimed by Jake Shields about 24 hours after Le’s return announcement.
“I knew what I was doing,” said Le. “I didn’t want to do (just fighting or acting), I wanted to do both, and to do that I had to make sacrifices and that’s what I did.
“Life doesn’t work out the way you want it to sometimes, you have to go with the flow, and that’s what I’m doing. If my (winning) streak keeps going good, then maybe I’ll come back and make a run at it.”
With two highly anticipated films due in China over the next several months, and an original project in the pipeline, it’s not clear whether or not Le will be able to commit to a full-time fight career in the coming year, but he remains optimistic.
“I know there are a lot of people who thought I wouldn’t return; well they can eat their words now,” he stated. “I’m going to fight in December, and then I’m going to try to push this project, and then get in another fight next year or maybe two.
“I’m not going to overlook Scott Smith, he’s one of those dangerous fighters who has a powerful punch and is a game fighter. I’ve got to treat this like a title fight, and whatever happens after this fight, happens. Right now I’ve just got to take it one fight at a time and see how it goes.”