5/13/08 - By Jonathan Brown for SPRAWL Fight Short Company.
The New Strike Force Middleweight Champion took time out of his busy schedule recently to talk with SPRAWL. In this must read interview, the mighty striker from San Jose breaks down his fight with Frank Shamrock, talks about his movie career, and looks to the future. All this and much more in this SPRAWL exclusive.
JB: Congratulations champ on your win over Frank Shamrock!
CL: That was a huge win for me in the biggest fight of my life.
JB: Some people have criticized Frank for not taking you to the ground and deciding to stand instead. Were you surprised he decided to stand with you?
CL: Whoever is criticizing Frank probably didn’t watch the fight closely. Frank tried to take me down. I gave him two opportunities when I gave him one wheel kick and a spinning back kick. At one point he took my back, but I was able to escape that. Another time, he bumped me when I was trying to do the wheel kick, and he tried to counter and put on the guillotine. However, I was able to defend it. Every time he did try to shoot I would kick him real hard, so people can say whatever they want to say, but they are not the one in there fighting me.
JB: Was there a point in the fight where Frank was forced to stand with you, because his body was to beaten up from those kicks to be quick enough or strong enough to get the takedown?
CL: I think maybe if it got to the fifth round there would be no opportunity, but if you remember he was in two big fights with Jeremy Horn and Tito Ortiz, where he was behind in the fight and came back to win. He’s one of those guys that will create opportunities. He was waiting for me to do the spinning back kicks or wheel kicks. When I got back to the corner Javier Menendez was like ‘no more spin kicks!’ In that third round when I swept him I knew he was either going to shoot or attempt some kind of submission. You know like shoot in and attempt some sort of ankle lock or knee bar. That’s what I was expecting, but instead he threw the right hand.
JB: It looked like he was trying to time you with that right hand the entire fight. It looked like he hurt you with a few big ones in the third round, but then at the end of the round you came back strong. Do you think when he realized you weren’t going anywhere it took some of his fighting spirit away?
CL: Frank hit me a couple times with that right hand in the first couple of rounds, but most were just grazing shots. In the third round he caught me with three or four of them in a row. I definitely believe because I was still there after that, and then I picked up the pace again even after I was hurt, it broke his will a little bit.
JB: Is there going to be a re-match with Frank Shamrock?
CL: He’s talked about a re-match in some of his interviews, but he wants to fight his brother first. For me, I believe in Frank’s mind and a few others a re-match is warranted. Frank said I cracked his arm in the first round, which is not true: it was the second to last kick. I threw the kick, and he blocked it, and I heard the bone snap. But it was a very exciting fight for MMA fans. If Frank wants to do it again; I say strike while the iron is hot. He’s talking that he fought a round and a half with a broken arm, so let’s take care of the unfinished business then.
JB: Has there been any other fights offered to you?
CL: I sat down with the promoter, and he said take some time and relax, and we will re-visit this in May. At the same time, I got two movie offers on the table and two movies coming out soon. One of them is called Teken, which is a very popular video game. That will come out next year when they come out with Teken 6.
JB: What Character are you playing?
CL: Marshall Law. I have actually finished filming already. If people want to check out my movie career they can log on to www.imdb.com, then go to Cung Le, and you will be able to see all my movies. Another one of my movies called “Fighting” has a big cast and will be released by the end of this year with Terrence Howard; who is an academy award winner; Luis Guzman, and whole bunch of other big names in the industry.
JB: Anderson Silva is the UFC middleweight champion. Robbie Lawler is the Elite XC middleweight champ. You just won the Strike Force middleweight championship. Who is the real champ at the 185 pound division?
CL: Well there is only one way to find out and that is if we could all fight, but we are all part of different organizations. I look at it like this: it all depends on who has a good day that day. That being said I think Anderson Silva is the most well-rounded fighter in the division, but just because you are well rounded doesn’t mean you can’t get caught because anything can happen in an MMA fight. One thing about Strike Force and Pro Elite is we do co-promotions unlike the UFC. I also think the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix winner Kazuo Misaki is in the mix. All of us make good match-ups because we are all strikers, and I believe that’s what the fans want to see. I would love to fight any of those champions.
JB: I heard Misaki is negotiating with Strike Force.
CL: I believe the deal is already done, but strategically it would not be a good idea for us to fight off the bat because only the hardcore fans really know who Misaki is.
JB: How about Robbie Lawler. He is promoted by Pro-elite; who has done co-promotions with Strike Force in the past. Is that a fight your looking for in the future?
CL: No, my job is not to promote. My job is to train and be ready to fight. If Gary Shaw and Scott Cocker can make that happen: Great! Now there is a little bit of a situation because one company is with CBS (Pro-elite), and another is with NBC (Strike Force). It is a little bit more political now then before when we just co-promoted on Showtime. So now there’s going to be more of a conflict of interest, so I don’t want to concern myself with that. My job is to train and fight.
JB: Who do you like in the up and coming fight between Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith?
CL: I like Robbie. He has beaten some big names, and he has some heavy hands, but you know Smith has some heavy hands too. Robbie is more well-rounded, so I think the edge goes to Robbie, but Smith has a punchers chance.
JB: Kimbo Slice is trying to make the transition from street fighter to MMA fighter. Do you think he will be successful?
CL: I think they are building him right. You know he definitely has some heavy-hands. If you get hit with one of those you are definitely in trouble. I think if they keep giving him the right fights he can definitely be a threat in the heavyweight division.
JB: How many fights do you have left on your contract?
CL: I have four fights left with Strike Force.
JB: You have been called a one-dimensional fighter in the past. You train at American Kickboxing Academy with some top wrestlers like Jon Fitch and Josh Koshcheck. Have you been training with them to become a more well-rounded fighter?
CL: You have no choice, but to get better when you train with those guys. AKA is one of the top 3 camps in the country, so I’m happy to be a part of that. I also have a camp of my own. I have a lot of really solid stand-up fighters, and also a lot of good wrestler that are transitioning well. My camp has a strong alliance with AKA, so we train together a lot.
JB: It looks like Jon Fitch will get the next shot at GSP. How do you see that fight playing out?
CL: I see it as a very competitive fight. I don’t really feel they have built up Jon Fitch right. He has been floating under the radar and been taking out everyone. It all comes down to how Jon Fitch comes into the fight. If Jon Fitch is a 100% it will be a very competitive fight. It’s a hard fight to call. I like GSP. He is a great, well-rounded fighter, but I train with Jon Fitch, he is my friend, and I believe he can do anything he puts his mind to.
JB: Tim Sylvia recently left the UFC and is scheduled to fight Fedor Emielenko this summer. Who do you like in that fight?
CL: I like Fedor.
JB: Are you a big Fedor fan?
CL: Yeah. I’m a Fedor fan. I’m really a Randy Couture fan, but when it comes down to those fighters, I’ll go with Randy. Randy’s a cool guy. He gave me some good tips before the Frank Shamrock fight.
JB: How have SPRAWL Fight Shorts improved your MMA technique?
CL: I have worn SPRAWL Fight Shorts in every single one of my MMA fights. They are the preferred fight shorts for me. They have never ripped in training or in a fight.
JB: Is there anything you would like to say in closing?
CL: Thank you to all my fans. Thank you to SPRAWL for supporting me. If you want to look me up go to Cungle.com.