Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le has been chomping at the bit to get back to a regular schedule and prove he belongs in the UFC.
After coming back from a 17-month lay off, the Sanshou ace’s first opponent back was Pride legend Wanderlei Silva at UFC 139. While Silva stopped Le in the second round, Le had an impressive first-round showing, but just couldn’t keep the momentum going.
Le, however, doesn’t believe the ring rust played a factor against Silva and that it was a combination of his grueling training camp at American Kickboxing Academy and not listening to his body.
“I think the biggest thing that affected me was I wasn’t used to the heavy pounding,” Le told MMAWeekly Radio.
“It wasn’t during the fight that affected me, it was during training camp. Training with bigger guys like King Mo and all the good fighters over there at AKA, you get banged up. It seemed like I was getting injured every other week. So definitely, that was the biggest part in being healthy for the fight.”
Now, at UFC 148, when he meets Patrick Cote, Le hopes to put his UFC debut behind him and chalk it up to experience when he enters the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Originally, Le was expected to meet Rich Franklin, but now meeting Cote, he still wants to show UFC fans that he can compete at the highest level. In order for him to put on a high quality performance, Le knows that the important thing is to let your body heal and to be in the best place mentally come fight time.
“I just want to compete at the highest level I could and perform to the best of my abilities. I feel like I have a great training camp. It’s not like I went from Wanderlei and started filming movies,” explained Le. “I healed up and got right back in there and changed my training regimen around to make sure that I realize I can’t just go 185 percent all the time and wear down the body.
“You got to rest, you got to recover and you just got to train smarter. For this camp, I trained a lot smarter. I’m in a lot better shape. I’m going in without being all banged up. Sparring with King Mo every other day took its toll on my body.”
In the end, Le knows when he had to tone it down in training and heal his body more, and at UFC 148 we’ll find out if it’s enough to take down “The Predator” Patrick Cote.