December 20, 2009
Don't ever count out Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith because he's turning out to be the most dramatic fighter in the sport. He already had two of the best comeback in the last five in MMA against Benji Radach and Pete Sell. Tonight, he may have topped those wins by taking out unbeaten Cung Le.
For two and a half rounds, Le seemed to land every big kick he attempted and bounced Smith around the cage. He floored Smith three different times on body kicks. Smith showed incredible toughness and when Le got tired later in the fight, he took advantage of his opening. In the third, Smith faked a right and changed the fight with a left hook that buckled Le. Le, trying to hold on, lerched forward and got caught with a right, straight down the pipe (pictured to the right). Le fell to his knees and then his back on the ground, he took two more shots before referee John McCarthy stopped it at 3:25 of the third.
"This was one helluva fight,’’ Smith said in the cage. “He had me the first two-and-a-half rounds, but I’ve got a hard head. On the knockdown, I faked the right and threw the left. Everyone always looks for my right, but the left hook is my best punch."
The stunned Le had no excuses and would admit that a 20 month layoff cost him.
“He got me with a punch,’’ Le said. “I did my best, he did his best tonight and we both fought our hearts out. This was a great fight. It was not about focus, or a lack thereof. I just got caught. It is what it is.’’
Around three minutes into the fight, a Smith victory was unimagineable. He was knocked down by a Le kick that bounced off his arms and into his face. Le got off 50-plus hammerfists and punches on the ground over the course of 70 seconds. In one stretch, Le pounded the injured fighter with 38 unanswered shots, yet "Big" John watch closely to see if Smith went limp. McCarthy didn't freak out or stop it.
Smith got one final warning to fight back, he rose to his feet and immediately threw some punches Le's way. It may have broken Le's spirits a bit. More importantly, the bevy of hammerfists that Le threw seemed to tire him. He would breathe deeply through his mouth for the remainder of the fight. His hands gradually dropped leaving the door open for Smith in the third.
It was the first career MMA loss for the 37-year-old Le (6-1). The former kickboxer quickly became a huge star with his highlight reel kicks and finishes. He scored a huge win in March of 2008 over MMA legend Frank Shamrock. But that was also the last time he fought. Le spent much of his time since making movies and away from the gym. When opportunities dried up on the silver screen, Le took this fight on less than two months notice. It wasn't enough time to get in fighting shape and it showed as the fight moved along.
As Smith was being announced as the winner, Le still looked groggy and appeared to have a broken nose.
Smith, now 17-6, rebounded from an awful beating at the hands of Nick Diaz in August. He said this win was bigger than any fight in his career.
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