“Hands of steel? Heart of steel!” – Stephen Quadros
You couldn’t have scripted it any better if it were in a movie.
The audience looked on, their stunned expressions telling the tale. Mouths agape, the thousands in attendance had witnessed Scott Smith once again snatch victory from the jaws of certain defeat.
The first two and a half rounds played out exactly as predicted. Smith did his best impression of a heavy bag, and Le unloaded on his opponent with a plethora of kicks. Le had easily won the first two rounds and needed only to avoid the desperation shot from Smith. That desperation shot came in the form of a left hook, set up by a right feign. Le dropped his head and, with his chin out, Smith was able to knock Le down, leading to Big John McCarthy waving the fight as Smith battered his fallen adversary.
Call it a Christmas miracle. Call it divine intervention or fate. Just don’t call it a fluke.
For Smith, the miraculous has become typical. “I’ve got a hard heard,” Smith told the crowd after the fight. “He beat on me for a good two and a half rounds, [but] I’m never out of the fight, you guys. That’s why I’m fun to watch.”
In 2006, Pete Sell broke Smith’s rib in the second round of their fight. Sell sensed that the fight was over, and as he rushed in to put his opponent away, Smith mustered the last ounce of strength he had left and threw an overhand right that not only landed on the charging chin of Sell, but knocked him out. Against Benji Radach earlier this year, Smith bore the brunt of Radach’s assault for two and a half rounds, until out of nowhere another thunderous punch dropped Smith’s opponent, allowing him to stave off certain defeat once more.
You couldn’t turn Smith’s story into a film. Three back-from-the-brink knock outs? Whose going to believe that?
With Smith, the impossible is becoming easy to believe. Not only did he once again shock the world, but he knocked out the previously unbeaten Cung Le. Though he’s won the WEC Light Heavyweight title and fought in two title matches on CBS, his victory over Le must be considered the greatest moment in Scott Smith’s MMA career thus far.
Despite his tremendous accomplishment, Smith still faces an uphill battle in what he described as a “stacked” Middleweight division. Ever the realist, Smith acknowledged that he remains outside of the title picture. No problem for Smith. “I know I may not be in line for the belt, but I just want these tough fights like Cung Le.”
Le, on the other hand, appears to be resigned to competing in MMA between his work on films.
To his credit, Le refused to blame his acting schedule for his performance. Admirable, but difficult to believe. By the middle of round two, Le’s stamina was starting to wane. As Stephen Quadros astutely pointed out while commenting on the fight, kicks are the most exhausting technique for a fighter to utilize. Le, of course, bases his entire fighting strategy around his kicks. Under the circumstances, one wonders how things might have been different had this fight occurred on a typical fighter’s timetable as opposed to following a 21-month layoff in which Le filmed four movies.
After the loss he suffered tonight, in which he suffered a badly broken nose, it may be another several months before we see Cung Le back either in the cage or up on the silver screen.
As for Smith, his upcoming schedule is simple. “I want to go home and enjoy my Christmas with my kids.” They will no doubt help Smith celebrate the early Christmas present he earned last night.