by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Saturday night’s co-promoted Strikeforce and EliteXC event in San Jose, Calif. looks to possibly be the biggest in Strikeforce’s two-year history, as two local legends, Cung Le and Frank Shamrock collide for Shamrock’s 185-pound championship.
For Cung Le this fight in particular is a momentous occasion in his career.
After years of success as a San Shou star, Le made the transition to mixed martial arts in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. Five fights into his career and five wins later, he’s established himself as a true crossover superstar.
Yet for all his success, he admits that this fight against a longtime acquaintance is the true pinnacle of his fighting career.
“This is the biggest fight of any magnitude in my career,” stated Le. “I’m very excited about this fight, very honored to be part of this fight, and I’m just grateful that it’s going to go down.
“I’m healthy, I’m injury free and I’m ready to go.”
While such a huge fight may weigh heavily on the shoulders of the participants, Le continues to maintain a focus in himself.
“It’s funny, I feel like there’s not that much pressure, but I’m kind of at a loss for words,” said Le. “I know it’s big, but I’m just trying to stay calm, relax and wait for the big day.”
When asked if the fact that this fight is for a title adds to his excitement, he responded, “Definitely. Going for the Strikeforce title, and fighting someone like Frank for it, that’s even better.”
As Le points out, he will be facing a fighter he is very familiar with in Frank Shamrock. The two have known each other for years and have even trained with each other. But Le is quick to point out that doesn’t necessarily make the fight any easier.
“I know Frank; he’s going to be a tough fight,” he explained. “It’s different when you train with a person than when you step inside the cage for a live event – you’re fighting them for real, it’s going to be definitely different.
“I know one thing for sure, we’re both going to go in there with a lot on the line.”
When it comes to the fight itself, Le expects there to be a fair amount of risk-taking, as well as each fighter using their standout traits to try to win the fight.
“I believe Frank is going to test the waters and try to stand in the beginning and I’ll try to capitalize on that if that happens, if not, then I’ll be prepared for whatever Frank has in store,” said Le.
“I think Frank is always going to have an upper hand on the ground, like I feel I’ll have the upper hand when it comes to standing. I don’t know, I don’t predict fights; I’m just going in there and let things fly.”
Should Le defeat Shamrock and claim the Strikeforce middleweight title, it would be the culmination of an exhaustive effort on Le’s behalf to transition from being a champion in one sport to becoming a champion in another.
“I’ve been working really hard for this,” he stated. “Before I entered into the MMA world I was already a champion and well recognized, but I’m grateful that it’s only been two years since I crossed over into the MMA world to have this chance.
“I’m doing everything I could to prepare for this fight and go in there and have the best fight of my life.”
Regardless of the outcome of the fight, however, Le already anticipates 2008 being a great year for him in many aspects.
“Everything is coming together,” he commented. “I think this year should start out great and I’m just grateful to wake up every day and I’m blessed with everything I have and all the people that are around me.
“I’m just going to take it one fight at a time. I’m not really thinking anything other than this one fight. Frank Shamrock is the only thing that’s occupying me right now.”
There is no doubt that the HP Pavilion will be rocking when two of the area’s most popular and polarizing figures meet in a title match that could very much become a signature match in each fighter’s stellar careers.
“Definitely don’t miss the show March 29 on Showtime,” concluded Le.
“I want to thank all my sponsors, Throwdown, myGride.com, Zebra Mats, KNOXX, Morning Crane, Mad Core, Sprawl Shorts, Cage Fighter, Toe 2 Toe, Mickey’s, Magnum Drywall and BR Flooring. Right now I’m just kind of in this little world where nothing matters except this fight.”