(“Whoa, tiger-claws, huh? Alright! Well, see ya later.”)
Despite regular treatments of…ugh…bloodletting?…Cung Le‘s right foot is still not fully recovered from the injury he received during his victory over Patrick Cote at UFC 148. That’s a problem, considering that his main event bout against Rich Franklin at UFC Macau (aka UFC China aka UFC on FUEL 6) is only nine days away. But as he told Ariel Helwani recently on The MMA Hour, the importance of competing in China is worth the danger of fighting hurt. Or at least that’s what he’d like us to believe:
“I would say [my foot is] 80% now. I’ve kicked a couple of my training partners in the head, [and] it still hurt a little bit, but I’m hoping by the time the fight comes on it’ll be 100 percent…whether I’m 80 or 100, I’m gonna fight…if [this fight] wasn’t in Macau, China, 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, and of course the UFC needed me to fight…I was not even cleared yet, [and Dana White] was like, ‘Cung’s gonna fight.’ So, a little bit of pressure, but pressure’s good.”
Injured foot or not, Le was the most credible option to have an Asian (preferably non-Japanese) face headline the UFC’s first show in China, so he kind of had to go through with it. But in light of his difficult recovery, the danger is that he’ll put on a lackluster performance which could turn off local fans. We touched on this a little yesterday — the UFC’s emphasis on “hometown heroes” headlining international events sounds perfectly logical, but the strategy might not be as effective as simply putting on a badass fight between exciting (and healthy) stars in the main event, no matter what part of the world they’re from.
Side note: When a fighter admits that a part of their body is “80%” before a fight, you can automatically downgrade that to like 50%, at best. If you haven’t put cash on Ace yet, you might want to consider it.