Q and A with Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le
I recently had the chance to speak with Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le. We talked about his movie career, injuries, previous fights and CBS/Strikeforce deal.
Check out the Q and A below:
Q: Are you going to be at the Strikeforce fight Saturday? Who are you picking in the main event?
A: I am going to go with the Striker, Gina.
Q: You have had some injuries you have been healing up while pursuing acting. Are you 100% healthy right now?
A: I am about 80% . I am just taking it slowly and not rushing back into anything and re injuring myself . I tried to get ready for the first card on Showtime for Strikeforce. Me and my trainer Javier Mendez gave it a about a three week run, and the soreness took longer to go away then expected, so I had to pull out.
Q: Do you have to do any therapy?
A: A lot of people don’t realize that the therapy is only as good as your rehab. If you are not getting quality rehab it’s just not going to heal right.
Q: Are you able to train while you are in therapy/rehab?
A: No, no, I am able to train. I have just been working on my injuries. Now I am able to hit the pads and work a little bit more. I just have to be very careful . I don’t want to re-injure it and be out even longer. This can affect my whole career. I do most of my own stunts, so I don’t want to jeopardize any of my careers going right now.
Q: Are there any stunts that are propositioned to you and you say no, I don’t want to do that?
A: On Pandorum I wanted to do every single stunt and I ended up missing three of them. I think the producer knew that I wouldn’t take no for an answer. They were shooting a B unit at the same time they were shooting my stunt. I didn’t know about it until after, but I was very grateful because I found out that one of the stunt guys who did the high fall onto the table, the table didn’t break on the first try and he tweaked his elbow a little bit , and that could have re-injured my elbow.
Q: Did it take a lot of convincing to the producers to do your own stunts?
A: I just told them I like to do all my own stunts. They let me try out a few of them, they give you a couple of tries. They give you a rehearsal. If you are able to do it then they let you do it, but if you can’t pull it off then they use the stuntman. But pretty much I have been able to do all of my own stunts better then the stuntman himself.
Q: Do you have any more movies coming out this year?
A: Pandorum is coming out September 18th with Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster. That is a big one. I have a supporting lead. That is a big role for me. A lot of dialogue and a lot of action. I did like 97 % of all my own stunts in that movie. That was a brutal shoot. We worked like 14-15 hours a day. It was go time. It was in Berlin. I didn’t get a chance to see much of Berlin in the first two months.
Q: Do you have a time table in regards of when you want to return to fighting or are you ust going to wait until you are 100% healthy?
A: I am hoping that I can return by the end of the year or early next year. I talked to Scott Coker and he mentioned CBS. That means I’ll be doing double time on the rehab and making sure I don’t re-injure my elbow.
Q: It seems like the CBS/Strikeforce deal is up in the air. Do you think it is definitely going to happen?
A: I definitely think it is going to happen. That is why Scott Coker brought it up to me. He asked if I would be ready to go? I said yeah, if it’s the end of the year or early next year I think I will be ready to go. I just can’t tweak my elbow again.
Q: How did you hurt the elbow? Was it a combination of injuries over the years?
A: I had a surgery after my 5th MMA fight. With all the jiu-jitsu and sparring and overuse of the elbow over the years, I needed another surgery. A minor surgery ended up being a major surgery. It’s almost severe as one of those [major league baseball] pitcher’s surgeries. They said I would not be able to train for three months after the surgery.
Then I found out that Renzo gracie dropped out of the Frank Shamrock fight. That was two weeks after my surgery. My trainer says you might not get another chance. What do you want to do? By that time we had about 3-4 months to train. So they said three months before you can really start using it [the elbow], with all the rehab, and I jumped right into rehab and using it like 3-4 weeeks later. I came into AKA with this big old brace on my arm and I looked like the bionic man.
Q: See that is something I didn’t know. I didn’t know you jumped into that fight after such a major surgery.
A: Yeah. And I had an awesome performance. I can only get lucky so many times. I feel like that was a combination of luck, determination and will to win. Usually i have more pop on my punches. Pretty much all of my fights end up in KO and I finished Frank with a kick to the arm and broke it. I hit him with a lot of shots and made him bleed.
I never been hit so many times in a fight in my whole career. I wasn’t able to get enough sparring in. I could do a lot of cardio. I was able to simulate someone coming at me, but it wasn’t like live, go time. But I pulled it off and it turned out to be one of the best fights of the year. And I ended on that note, and that’s it. I just have to make sure the elbow is good. I have had two surgeries on this elbow. If I have to do another one, that might be the end of my career.
Q: What kind of surgery was it?
A: The first one was a scope, and the second one was supposed to be a scope to clean it up, but it ended up that they had to move the whole ulnar nerve over because there was a big bone spur that was poking in it, and my hand started to atrophy.
Q: Do you think that you threw more kicks in the Shamrock fight then you normally would because of the elbow?
A: I think that he was open for kicks and he was blocking with one arm and that is great for me. I do a lot of timing. I like guys to shoot in on me and I’ll stuff the shot once and I’ll give them my leg and if they shoot from far away I definitely kick at the same time because I can maneuver and I can defend the single leg really well and even the double. But Frank took high shots on me, took my back once and was waiting for those spinning back kicks and he timed it pretty well. I was able to escape and execute them [the kicks] with a lot of counter punches and a lot of kicks and do some damage to Frank. The second to last kick, that broke his arm. He was a warrior who didn’t want to go down. I think that fight and that injury took the life out of Frank. he hasn’t looked the same since. They say Frank came into the Diaz fight with injured ribs , but I think he came back from the broken arm too early because I know he a second surgery.
Q: Is there other Sanshou fighters in MMA that are as successful as you?
A: No, no, I think I am the most successful Sanshou fighter right now. But I have a French kid in here who is like a Sanshou champion, Thomas Dungee. He is fighting on the September Young Guns card in Oklahoma. He is one to watch out for, he actually throws sidekicks. He has great take down defense and he is getting good at submissions. I told him no submissions unless you really have the guy hurt, because people really like to see those kicks to the face.
Also, September 18th, big movie [Pandorum]. If people wondered , I am not having little bits and parts in movies. I had little parts in fighting, but this is a big role. I am one of the leads. I helped carry this movie and this is a chance for people to critique and see if they like me as an actor or not.
I am sure there is a lot of people out there wondering if I am just in there because I am a champion, but I actually had to win this role from a lot of marquee Asian actors. And I beat them all out in audition. There was nothing physical about this audition. It was just how good can you read your lines.