CUNG LE RETURNS TO MACAU IN AUGUST AND PLANS TO MAKE A STATEMENT, WRITES MATHEW SCOTT.

Cung Le seems content to bide his time during the press conference being held to promote UFC Fight Night 48.

While Michael Bisping makes a fair fist of ranting and raving and generally amping up the hype, Le just sits there on the podium biding his time and letting his scheduled opponent do all the talking before their headline middleweight bout set down for the 23 August UFC card at Macau’s Cotai Arena.

It isn’t until afterwards, when cornered in an outside room, the 42-year-old Le lets rip.

ROUGH_CUNG-LE

CUNG LE

HE’S GOOD AT TALKING TRASH, BUT I AM GOOD AT KICKING ASS.

“He’s good at talking trash, but I am good at kicking ass,” Le says. “Mostly I like to let my actions do the talking for me.”

It has been that way since Le was a young lad, fending for himself on the schoolyards of Monterey, California, where American boys of the mid-1970s paid special attention to the kids who had started to arrive from Vietnam as their families fled the war, and its aftermath, and looked to start a new life.

For Le, the trip had seen him escape Saigon just five days before the city fell to the North Vietnamese forces in 1975, and from there he spent time in refugee camps in the Philippines and the Guam before being shipped to the United States with his mother.

“By the time I was six I was getting picked on a lot, bullied really,” Le says.

“My mum just figured it wasn’t going to stop so she eventually put me in martial arts – when I was about 10 – and pretty soon the bullying stopped. I don’t really have clear memories about leaving Vietnam, but I know it was rough. I know it was rough growing up for me, too, as American kids were not educated right about why their relatives were getting killed over there. So I think that affected a lot of people in the wrong way – the way they looked at us and the way they acted towards us.

“But, you know, it’s over and done with now. Times have certainly changed there as they have everywhere.”

Le eventually turned his attention to wrestling, winning All-American honours all the way through school while he supplemented that sport with a passion for martial arts, with Sanshou kickboxing becoming his speciality.

The fight against the 35-year old Bisping (24-6) will be his first since he sent Rich Franklin to the canvas in the first round of their bout at the UFC’s inaugural event in Macau in 2012.

For most observers, Le (9-2) landed the punch of the year then and they’ll be hoping for more of the same when he lines up against Bisping as part of the nine-fight card.

Both fighters have careers which are at the crossroads. Eighth-ranked Briton Bisping is returning from problems with his right eye and coming off a loss to Tim Kennedy in April that was hardly the greatest advertisement for the sport, marred as it was by excessive on-the-mat grappling. It worked for Kennedy, but Bisping acknowledged the critics at the bout had a point.

Le, meanwhile, has been spending most of his time training fighters for The Ultimate Fighter: China series while furthering a film career that has already seen him star alongside the likes of action man Donnie Yen (Bodyguards and Assassins).

“Every fight for me is important and I want to go out and show the world what I can do again,” Le says.

“Films are just one side of my life now, but I am a fighter – that is what I have always wanted to do. I never back down and I am looking forward to getting in there and putting on a show.”

THE FIGHTER

Cung Le describes his role as mentor coach and “big boss” for the UFC’s first Ultimate Fighter China TV series as an opportunity of a lifetime.

“It’s history in the making,” he told ROUGH. “But I’ve never experienced so much work.”

Unlike other TUF shows around the world which operate with two head coaches who each lead a team, Le was able to work with both teams and mentor all fighters.

“It was a great experience but thank God I brought my trainer Scott Sheeley, because we needed a lot of help.”

Going into the series, Le was interested in developing fighters with a strong background in Sanshou.

“Sanda makes a great transition into mixed martial arts, but you have to dedicate yourself.”

The Ultimate Fighter China pulled in a massive 115 million viewers and Le says Chinese fighters are hungry to win the six-figure contract, because it changes lives.“That kind of money here is life-changing. Plus just being part of UFC is the top of the food chain.”