If there's one thing I've realized in my 40 years, it's this – you can't fight and film at the same time. As a mixed martial artist and actor, I have, for years, tried to balance the two, but now, just weeks from my fight on July 7 at UFC 148, I can safely say I've never been more dedicated to the sport of MMA.
The two – movies and fighting – used to overlap a lot in the past, but it wasn't such a big deal back then because my parts in the movies were only small. It didn't require much time or effort on my part. As the roles became bigger, though, it became a lot more demanding and it was then that I had to start asking serious questions of myself. In fact, after the Scott Smith loss in 2009, I basically looked in the mirror and said, 'Come on, you can't do both these things halfway like this. You have to do one or the other'. I realised I had a big decision to make.
In the end, I wanted to do both, but knew the importance of giving myself enough time to fully commit to one at a time. I needed to prepare for fights like everybody else and I needed to then take that same commitment into my movie work. Whether fighting or filming, I couldn't put in anything less than 100%.
[Pay-per-view: Watch UFC 148 on Yahoo! Sports]
Even though I dominated that Smith fight pretty much the whole way, I still wasn't in the best shape and I knew it. I was just in regular fighting shape, and that was it. I did my cardio, I worked fairly hard, but, honestly, I was just looking good for the screen. That wasn't enough. Scott was fitter than I was that night and he outlasted me.
I definitely want to continue doing movies when my fighting career is over with. I recently did a movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme called 'Dragon Eyes' and they let me choreograph all the fight scenes, which was nice. The scenes were awesome, and that's something I'd love to do more of in the future. In fact, one of the scenes I choreographed won the 'Best Fight' award at the Action Film Festival. I also won the 'Rising Action Star' award. So, I feel I have potential in that industry, and it's satisfying to know you have a career beyond fighting. It takes some of the pressure off your shoulders.
Knocking opponents out and winning awards for films are both in the same ballpark for me. They both mean a great deal, and produce a similar kind of feeling. You probably experience far more of an adrenaline rush after winning a fight, but the thrill of winning an award or completing a good movie perhaps lasts a bit longer. They are both major accomplishments, though, and I feel blessed to be able to do both – win fights and win awards for movies.
Funnily enough, most of the actors I'm on set with can't believe I'm still competing at 40 years of age. I take good care of myself, though. I live the martial arts lifestyle and never party hard.
Ultimately, I just love competing. And that's something the movie business can't really offer. Sure, there is competition for roles and what not, but nothing can compare to the buzz you feel when stepping into the Octagon with an opponent. At that point, it's one on one, all or nothing, kill or be killed. You can't replicate those emotions anywhere else. To be honest, that's why I keep coming back and that's why I won't finding it easy retiring from martial arts.
This is something I still desperately want in my life and now I'm a part of the UFC there is even more incentive. I have the opportunity to fight the best guys in the world at my weight, and this presents me with a true test of my skills. It also motivates me to get in the best possible condition for every fight. I can't cut corners in the UFC, because I know the competition is so fierce. If I'm not on it, I'll lose.
I haven't cut a single corner ahead of this fight with Patrick Cote on July 7, and have actually experienced the best training camp of my entire career. I know how important the fight is, and there is no way I'm losing this one...
I’d love to hear from you on twitter @CungLe185.
*** Martial arts superstar Cung Le makes his second UFC appearance on July 7 at UFC 148 when he takes on hard-hitting Patrick Cote, and you can watch it all on Yahoo! Sports ***
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