MMAFrenzy continues its coverage of UFC 139 with our preview of a middleweight clash between Wanderlei Silva and Cung Le. Stay tuned to MMAFrenzy as we breakdown each fight on the UFC 139 main card leading up to the main event between Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Dan Henderson and former UFC light-heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le
Keys for Le (BR) – Look at Wanderlei Silva, now look at me, now look at Cung Le, now back to me.
What do you see? Other than me ripping off an Old Spice commercial, you see a man who is showing his age in the ring, as opposed to his actual age. Cung Le is actually four years older than Silva, but you would never guess that by looking at the two.
Silva, a veteran of MMA since the mid-1990’s, is a legend in the sport. He has fought in multiple weight classes, and challenged everyone he could in those divisions. He has taken on Chris Leben at 185 pounds, a man who has never left the middleweight division. He has taken on heavyweights Gilbert Yvel and Mirko Cro Cop. His legacy in this sport can never be questioned.
His current stature can be questioned, though. In the aforementioned Leben fight, Silva lasted just 27 seconds, as he was knocked out quickly with uppercuts from The Crippler. This came following a 16 month layoff, which saw The Axe Murderer barely defeat Michael Bisping via decision. In his last eight fights, Silva is just 2-6.
In those losses, Silva has been knocked out four times, as his go-for-broke style that served him so well in his prime, has shown its ugly head to the Brazilian. While he was able to survive an onslaught from his opponent while PRIDE champion, with years of damage, that is no longer the case. In Le, Silva is taking on yet another opponent that will threaten on his feet, and has the ability to knock Silva out with a large array of strikes.
Cung Le, while fighting for nearly as long as Silva, has only been in MMA since 2006, and has just eight MMA fights to his name. Starting in 2006, Le fought five times in two years. However, due to many circumstances, Le fought just three times the following three years.
Le has never failed to provide excitement inside the cage, with his plethora of punches and kicks using his martial arts background. That excitement has led to finishes in all of his fights, with just one blemish on his record, a loss to Scott Smith in December 2009.
Every single one of Le’s fights during his MMA career has occurred in San Jose, as Strikeforce was based in the city. That pattern continues, as San Jose is hosting the UFC for the first time on Saturday.
Expect a crowd that is in equal support for both Le and Silva, as both are fan favorites.
Keys for Silva (Chris Leslie) – It’s hard not to like Wanderlei Silva. Despite his insane Banzai tactics that made up his reign of terror in Japan, the man is one of the most gracious fighters the sport has ever seen. He always makes time for his fans and is putting together an impressive group of young fighters to carry on the tradition of their coach’s fighting spirit. The saying goes “every dog has its day” and it holds true for the Mad Dog as well. Unfortunately, that day has not been in the UFC.
Silva has struggled in the UFC but was showing signs of age before he left PRIDE in 2007. He’s had several surgeries to keep things going and has never once let that be an excuse for his performance. Plain and simple, he is a warrior.
That said, there’s only so far that can take you without adapting your style. Silva has enlisted the help of former Chute Box teammate, and UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva to prepare him for this fight. While Silva can certainly provide the looks and angles that Le will attack from, it is still on Wanderlei to try to resist the urge to get too reckless early. Wanderlei has reportedly had a great camp with Raphael Codeiro and company, which hopefully means they have drilled this idea into his head.
Do not expect much of a ground battle in this one but rather a fast-paced stand-up war. If Silva can avoid making the over-aggressive mistakes he has recently been making, then there is the possibility of him crushing Le with a counterstrike and finishing him violently.
While Silva keeps saying he will not retire after this fight, it could very well be his last fight in the UFC this Saturday.