Fireworks Guaranteed: Scott Smith And Cung Le Talk Rematch

“It’s fun and games for me,” Smith told “The tougher the situation you put me in the more fun I have. That’s why I’m kind of a slow starter. You have to hit me to really get me woken up and wanting to fight back.”

Pete Sell found out. So did Benji Radach and then Le in what became a third-round knockout. Le, the showman he is, tried to close in theatrical fashion and he paid for it with his first loss in 10 years of kickboxing and MMA. In a viral vignette promoting Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum, Le explains winning and losing like a champion. Until Smith, losing like a champion was mere theory. Accepting defeat as reality was Le’s toughest game and hardest fight.

“That loss was more of a lesson to help me refine my character and improve as a martial artist and overall as a human being,” Le said. “Sometimes you don’t know your true self until you face defeat. I definitely know who I am and that’s why I want to step back in there against the person who popped me and that’s Scott Smith. That’s more important to me that fighting another fighter before.”

Smith’s remarkable accomplishment was overshadowed by the magnitude of his vanquished opponent. Normally such a win would skyrocket a fringe contender straight into the title picture, especially the chaotic middleweight division with the inevitable defection of champion Jake Shields to the UFC. Win or lose the rematch Smith is forever in history as the first to defeat the mighty Cung Le, but it’s Le’s stature as a fighter that Smith at first believed cost him a shot at different game. Le was given a mulligan due to his inactivity, but it’s also easy to forget that Smith had only six weeks to prepare for one of the world’s elite.

“It’s kind of odd that after a non-title fight, a guy automatically gets a quick rematch,” Smith said. “It wasn’t like it was a controversial decision or something like that. He got knocked out, bottom line. He was supposed to win. He didn’t, so we’ll give him one more chance. That’s kind of how I feel.

“If I would have fought Cung and beat up him for the first two rounds and then he caught me in the third and knocked me out, I guarantee you they wouldn’t make a rematch right away. I felt he should have had to earn his stripes a little bit. Then after thinking about it, it still is a good fight for me. I do want to go out there and prove I didn’t just get lucky and catch him in the third round.”

For Smith to start quickly and not spend most of the fight as a moving target his plan is to push forward, avoid Le’s range and turn it into a dirty boxing match. If all else fails he’ll have to again rely on plain old guts. It was Herb Brooks who obsessively reminded the U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1980, “You don’t have the talent to win on talent alone.” Le’s always had the talent and the guile to match. He’ll have something new to contend with besides the man who beat him, his track record.

“If that doesn’t work out he’ll have to go back to trying to be the ‘Comeback Kid,’ but you can’t come back all the time,” said Le of Smith’s game plan. “You can only take so much damage until your body breaks down. I believe my percentage will be a little bit higher and a little bit harder. When you go in there and you say, ‘I gotta win, I gotta win,’ you put more pressure on yourself.”

Rather, Le’s walking the aisle to have fun, recalibrated by trainer Javier Mendez of the American Kickboxing Academy and equipped by his new sponsor Cage Hero. Whatever Le throws Smith will take it. Le will never admit it, but he has no choice but to stop Smith cold, even if it’s the ultimate test of endurance.

“I’m going to rock and roll,” Le said. “I’ve been waiting for this day to come, it’s almost here and I’m excited. I like to explode and do what I do best, which is perform at the highest level that I usually perform. I’ll go the whole 15 minutes if I have to.”

Watch the first Scott Smith and Cung Le fight here