Cung Le stuns Rick Franklin at UFC Fuel 6
The first of likely many UFC events went off without a hitch in Macau, China, this weekend. The 'Monte Carlo of the Orient' hosted the event headlined by UFC fan favourite and veteran former champ Rich 'Ace' Franklin and action star and Sanshou kickboxer Cung Le.
Franklin was favoured in this fight, and rightly so. Franklin has excellent cage presence, footwork, and timing, not to mention oddles of cage time. The Cincinnati native spent several weeks in Singapore training with fighters who could mimic Le’s unusual style. Franklin was looking for pattern recognition in Le’s unique striking.
The fighters Le has faced in the UFC---Wanderlei Silva and Patrick Cote---like to stand in front of their opponents, whereas Franklin likes to float and sting and control distance. Fans and pundits, though, know that a fighter's first couple of fights in the UFC can be a huge adrenaline dump, and wanted to see if Le had found a rhythm in the sports biggest stage.
The fight began for Ace as they always do: Franklin moving well, landing heavy, looping shots, and angling out of range quickly. Early on, Le’s spinning strikes were way off the mark, perhaps an indication that Franklin’s prep had paid off.
But at 2:17 of round one, Le landed a right to Franklin’s mandible after timing a leg kick-punch combo from the former middleweight champ. Franklin was out before gravity began his descent to the canvas.
“I’ll have to go home,” Franklin said, “go back to the drawing board and sit down with my coaches and make an intelligent decision.”
“That was the biggest fight of my life. I couldn’t ask for anything more," said Le.
The 40 year old fighter certainly sent a message: not only is he one of the most interesting, exciting strikers in MMA, but he finished a storied UFC vet faster than anyone had previously, including Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva.
Franklin may have entered the twilight of his fighting career with this loss. A run for 185 pound gold may now be off the table. But the Ohioan is one of the UFC’s most intelligent ambassadors, and will likely be a part of the promotion in that capacity for many years to come as they expand around the world.
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