It’s…. time! We could not be more stoked at this announcement: Cung Le is slated to fight Michael Bisping as the headline event at UFC: Macau 3 on August 23 at the Cotai Arena/Venetian Hotel in Macau.
Yesss. We’ve been waiting for Le’s return for too long, and now we’ll get to see more of mixed-martial arts’ best practitioner of kicking techniques, bar none.
Le is a world-famous kickboxer and former Strikeforce champion. He hasn’t fought often in the UFC, but had last appeared at the first UFC event to be aired from China, UFC: Macau, in which Le triumphantly knocked out the Cable Guy-version of Jim Carey known as Rich Franklin back in November, 2012.
We have been starving for good MMA fights in China. Besides the pushing matches broadcast on Chinese television in which any contact with an opponent’s head is simply rude and not allowed, we’ve had our hopes dashed by the lone UFC representative for China, Zhang Tiequan. Though he has the right name for a fighter*, Zhang didn’t do very well in the UFC having been KO’ed in 2012 by—get this—a Japanese fighter.
We’ve all seen the movies, and we’ve been told that all martial arts come from the Shaolin Temple. However, while the monks go on long promotional tours with licensed merchandising, it seems the progress of martial arts has stagnated ever since Bruce Lee dared to challenge the orhtodoxy of an insular disciple-based school of martial arts.
It was Lee that reformed modern martial arts and adopted new ideas like sparring and mixing components of various martial arts. Meanwhile, while developmental programs like Ultimate Fighter: China are starting to make headway, it seems the development of martial arts in China—mixed or otherwise— is limited to advances in wire-fu technology and in the selection of historical characters for idolatry.
Le was born in Vietnam and raised in the USA, but he’s the closest thing China has to a “traditional” martial artist if you’re willing to shuffle over geo-political lines. At the very least, Le appeared in the very best modern Chinese action movie about a safari hat-wearing Sun Yat-sen, Bodyguards and Assassins, starring alongside China’s embodiment of hair gel and wife beaters, Donnie Yen.
With this fight taking place in China, we’re sure that this will be an exciting bout as Le should galvanize the home crowd, something we’re sure will happen once Bisping says his next offensive comment to share the hurt feelings around.
Yeah… okay, we have to admit it: so there’s some tension going on between China and Vietnam right now, something that may make Chinese mainlanders rooting for a Vietnamese-American something of a long shot. But then, just look at who is on his T-shirt:
Give him a chance, China. Pump up, pump up.
Tickets for UFC: Macau 3, also known as Fight Night 48, will go on sale June 23.
* Zhang Tiequan is written as 张铁泉, and is an effective a pun in that “Iron Spring” sounds like “Iron Fist”
Photo: MMA Junkie, Cung Le Weibo