UFC 139 just got a whole lot interesting thanks to a new fight. Former Strikeforce middleweight champion will officially make the jump to the UFC on November 19. Cung Le will make his debut in what some would call a dream fight against Vitor Belfort in San Jose, CA.
Cung Le had been making noise for the last several weeks about wanting to fight on UFC 139. The former kickboxing and MMA champion seemed like a natural for a UFC show in his own backyard. Whether it was savvy negotiation or a panic once UFC 139 lost its main event to Fox, the deal is officially done, and Le will make his official debut in his hometown.
The fight brings together two of arguably the most exciting strikers in MMA. Vitor Belfort is coming off of a knockout win over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133, while Le is coming off a 2nd round KO over Scott Smith last year. Between the two fighters, they combine for 26 fights ended via knockout or TKO. I can’t imagine this being anything but an exciting fight.
An obvious question here is why Vitor would take the fight? Even after being embarrassed at the hands of Anderson Silva, Belfort still remains a fan favorite, and in the championship mix. He has been chirping about a title rematch since beating Akiyama while Dana White said he needs one or two wins. Taking a fight against a non-ranked opponent in the UFC really doesn’t give Belfort a whole lot of upside here. My only hunch is that Belfort will be highly considered for a title match with a win here. Otherwise, this is a huge gamble out of the Phenom.
Cung Le has always been one of my favorite MMA fighters. His kickboxing style is both flashy and devastating. One of the biggest criticisms of Le is his lack of big name opponents. While Frank Shamrock is certainly a legend, the fight came well past Shamrock’s prime. Belfort is no joke and this will undoubtedly be the biggest test in Le’s MMA career.
With Le vs. Belfort official, UFC 139 is still in need of a main-event. While the fight is a great one, it is a far cry from a heavyweight championship fight. Urijah Faber vs. Brian Bowles is also scheduled but it still feels like it is missing something. I’d expect something else to be announced shortly, otherwise this is going to be a real tough sell to the casual MMA audience on pay per view.
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