By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The UFC hits Fuel TV in less than two weeks with their first event in China, headlined by a bout between former Strikeforce Champ Cung Le and former UFC Champ Rich Franklin. Le made his UFC debut last November, losing to Wanderlei Silva in an action-packed fight. Though he lost that bout, he returned to action earlier this year, scoring a decision win over Patrick Cote at UFC 148.
Le feels like he had a lot of doubters regarding his future in the UFC after his bout with Silva. However, he's been given a major opportunity after his first UFC win, with another former UFC Champion standing across from him.
"A lot of people thought after I fought Wanderlei [Silva] I was going to be done," Le said in an interview with Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "But look at me now: two fights into my contract and I'm getting ready to fight the biggest fight of my life against Rich Franklin. It doesn't get any better than this. It's like a dream come true for me."
That "dream come true" comes in China, an opportunity Le could not pass up. However, that also means he's coming into the fight less than 100%. Le said he's been battling a foot injury, which will hinder him into the fight, but it was something he couldn't walk away from.
"Definitely if this fight wasn't in Macau, China, even if I was in a main event somewhere else, I'd give myself the right amount of time so my foot could really heal... I feel like martial arts basically started from China and my roots are the Chinese martial arts."
"This is why I do it. I could just be doing movies, but I love to compete. I love to train martial arts. This is what I love to do. Here's my opportunity. To do it in China, it's awesome."
Penick's Analysis: It's obviously not advisable to fight injured, though many fighters do quite often, and hopefully that doesn't render him totally ineffective in the fight against Franklin. It should be an entertaining fight, and having a chance to fight in China is something he didn't want to pass up. That's entirely understandable. Hopefully he's still able to put together a solid performance win or lose on Nov. 10, otherwise the decision to fight will be a mistake in retrospect. But if he can still do what he needs to do to put on a good fight, he may give himself a chance to win, and that's really all that matters.