Fireworks Guaranteed: Scott Smith And Cung Le Talk Rematch

Cung Le and Scott Smith Will Not Disappoint

The time eventually arrived when Cung Le accepted his first career defeat – one when Scott Smith shocked him, San Jose, Strikeforce and the rest of the MMA world. Le was Apollo Creed to Smith’s Rocky, a man that took it and took it and kept coming back for more. The majority of Le’s prep time was spent not in a gym but on a movie set of the action flick “Tekken” where he was restricted to shadowboxing and cardiovascular conditioning.

“I knew what I was getting myself into and I know the game of MMA,” Le told “I took it well and I moved on.”

Le’s moved on from much worse than a simple knockout from “The Hands of Stone,” a resilient native of Reno, Nevada who he gets to fight again June 26 in the same HP Pavilion where Smith scored his greatest achievement. He fled his native Saigon, South Vietnam, with his mother in 1975 as it fell to communist rule and as a new resident of San Jose was met by racial bullying that drove him to martial arts and Taekwondo by age 10. As he grew Le added his flavor and verve to the study that helped him to four national kickboxing titles and three world championships. As he met his fate six days before Christmas 2009 the agony of defeat went down worse than sour eggnog.

“I definitely shed some tears after the loss, but I’m a strong person and at the same time I have a lot to be grateful for,” Le said.

The way Le was dissecting Smith you’d have no idea it was the first time he was inside an MMA cage in 17 months. Le’s side and leg kicks were crisp and famous spinning back kicks dynamic in accuracy and execution. The virtuoso performance lent assurance that Le’s unprecedented undefeated record in kickboxing and MMA would continue. Smith’s pro record was 16-6 (one no contest) dotted by notable losses to Robbie Lawler, Patrick Cote and Nick Diaz.

Naked eyes can leave one exposed and embarrassed. Consider:

* Le took Smith down in the first round and went to a ground-and-pound to finish him early. He was hitting Smith expecting a stoppage, one that never came. Never mind rust. It would later occur to Le that perhaps he was being a bit too nice, a common lament from his coaches in high school and college.

* Le does a ton of work on heavy bags. None were found in Hollywood and that sapped him of his power; Le actually thought he broke his hand on one exchange and it entered his head that he was hitting Smith, but wasn’t hurting him. Those spinning back kicks were looking pretty, but by the third round Le was winded. His corner implored him to stick, move and score enough to win.

* If Smith is “Hands of Stone,” he also has a heart of steel. His highlight reel shows wins not spawned by talent but his impregnable will to win and the fact that he absolutely does not stop.