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Inside the Octagon




Just got this press release:


Tickets Go On Sale This Saturday, Jan. 19

SAN JOSE, Calif. — After months of circling around each other, world champions and Bay Area rivals, Frank Shamrock (23-8-1) and undefeated Cung Le (21-0), will finally face off in the cage when Shamrock defends his Strikeforce World Middleweight (185-pound limit) Championship against Le in the main event of an eagerly anticipated EliteXC-Strikeforce co-promoted mixed martial arts extravaganza Saturday, March 29, at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif..

Tickets for “Shamrock vs. Cung Le,” priced from $30, go on sale this Saturday, Jan. 19, at 10 a.m. PT at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070) as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (408-998-TIXS), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), EliteXC’s official website (www.ProElite.com) and Strikeforce’s official website (www.Strikeforceusa.net).

“This is absolutely a tremendous fight and an extremely dangerous fight for both fighters, but one I know they have wanted and the fans have been waiting for and can’t wait to see,’’’ EliteXC Live Events President Gary Shaw said. “I can’t wait to see it either. Shamrock is a true MMA legend, but Cung Le is one of the very best fighters around, and this is his chance to prove that to the world.

“Really, I have a ton of respect for both fighters and what they have accomplished. EliteXC is really looking forward to returning to San Jose where they truly have some of the most rabid and knowledgeable fans anywhere, and working again with Scott Coker and Strikeforce.”

Said Scott Coker, Strikeforce CEO: “As a martial arts promoter for 25 years and as a promoter of both of these fighters, I’ve been watching the rivalry between Frank and Cung build for quite some time, so it’s great to see this matchup finally come to fruition.

“This has the potential to be one of the greatest mixed martial arts fights of all-time because of the tremendous skill level of both fighters and the way they match up. It’s an honor to be able to bring this fight to the fans along with EliteXC.”

To fans in the Bay Area, a perennial hotbed for martial arts, the right to claim the throne as the region’s undisputed champion is equally important as ownership of the world title.

“Being No. 2 isn’t such a bad thing so Cung has nothing to be ashamed of,” cracked the ever-entertaining Shamrock (frankshamrock.proelite.com). The first Strikeforce middleweight champion in history, Shamrock returned to vintage form in his last fight as he dominated knockout artist Phil “The New York Badass” Baroni en route to choking Baroni (philbaroni.proelite.com) unconscious in the second round before a raucous HP Pavilion crowd on June 22, 2007.
“But there’s a big difference between being No. 1 and No. 2,’’ Shamrock continued. “Le will find that out soon enough. ”

“This is a fight that has been building for years. This is where we both grew up, where we both found our paths in life as martial artists and champions of combat. It was inevitable that we would one day face each other here. I’m excited it’s finally happening.’’

At 35, Shamrock has cemented his place as a legend in the sport of mixed martial arts. After becoming the first UFC Middleweight Champion in history in 1997 by submitting 1992 Olympic Games wrestling gold medalist Kevin Jackson with an armbar in a then-record 16 seconds, Shamrock reached the pinnacle of his career by stopping “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (titortiz.proelite.com), in what is celebrated as one of the greatest martial arts battles of all-time.

Before a record crowd of 18,265 at the HP Pavilion on March 10, 2006, Shamrock ended a three-year hiatus when he faced old nemesis Cesar Gracie in the main event of Strikeforce’s inaugural mixed martial arts show. In a devastating performance, Shamrock decimated the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with a right hand followed by a series of strikes on the floored Gracie that ended the fight a mere 21 seconds after it started.

Shamrock is widely recognized as the father of modern day mixed martial arts, a pioneer of complete fighting who boasts a dangerously versatile skill set, including western boxing, kickboxing and submission wrestling.

Le (cungle.proelite.com), also 35, is attempting to follow in Shamrock’s footsteps in the cage after reeling off 16 consecutive wins in professional kickboxing, where he sealed his position as the sport’s top 185-pound fighter and, arguably, its greatest pound-for-pound competitor.


A host of Le’s conquests, which include four K-1 USA “Superfight” victories and the International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) world 185-pound title, have been showcased on ESPN.

“I want this fight. I can’t wait to get in the cage with Frank,” said the confident Le, a winner in his last start over former The Ultimate Fighter reality show contestant, Sam “The Squeeze” Morgan, during a Strikeforce promotion at HP Pavilion on Nov. 16, 2007.

The talented Le’s victory, a third round TKO that he secured with a sidekick to the liver, raised his mixed martial arts record to a perfect 5-0 with five (T)KOs.

“People have been wondering when I’d take the next step in the cage and fight an established superstar and world champion,” said Le, who was sensational during a third-round TKO (strikes) over Tony Fryklund on the Shamrock-Baroni undercard. “Well, here it is. The fans are in for a great fight.”

The greatest challenge posed by Le is, perhaps, his fighting style, considered unorthodox by mixed martial arts standards. Thus far, he has been untouchable in the ring as well as the cage, frustrating and confusing his opponents with an elusiveness and bag of tricks that includes scissor kicks, hip tosses and assorted other throwing techniques that stem from his studies of San Shou kickboxing.

Born in Vietnam, Le fled the war-torn country as a baby in his mother’s arms in 1975. After immigrating to The United States, the family settled in San Jose where Le eventually became an All-American high school and, later, a California state wrestling champion at West Valley Junior College before discovering San Shou.

Le’s tale of survival and success has been the subject of documentary films aired on The Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel. More recently, Le was featured on an episode of The History Channel’s smash-hit martial arts television series, The Human Weapon.

The five-round Shamrock-Le contest will highlight a SHOWTIME telecast that begins live at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). The preliminary card will begin at 5 p.m. PT.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 at 6:25 pm by lvollmer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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About this blog
Web programmer by day, practicing mixed martial artist at night, Larry Vollmer Jr. brings the latest news from the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the rest of the mixed martial arts world - a fast-spreading obsession on TV and online. These are the bouts - they occur in an octagon-shaped "ring" - that test men's souls.