Two aging martial arts legends meet in the co-main event at UFC 139 when 39-year-old Cung Le (7-1) and 35-going-on-50-year-old Wanderlei Silva (33-11) get it on in the Octagon. The two men weighed in at the middleweight limit of 185 pounds yesterday, but Silva, a long-time light heavyweight, will have an immense size advantage over Le, who could easily make the 170lb welterweight limit.
Le is making his UFC debut after spending his whole MMA career with Strikeforce. He's been heavily criticized by hardcore MMA fans for the dubious quality of his opposition and hasn't fought since June 2010. He's split time between MMA and his movie career for the past several years.
Silva is coming off a crushing loss to Chris Leben at UFC 132 and has gone 2-4 since coming to the organization from Japan's Pride where he was the long-time 200lb champ although he lost his last 2 Pride fights by crushing knock outs to Dan Henderson and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. UFC president Dana White publicly urged Silva to retire after his last loss.
Given the question marks surrounding both fighters -- for Le it's age, ring rust and a very limited amount of experience fighting top-flight MMA competition, for Silva its his fast-fading chin and rapidly-slowing reflexes -- its hard to make a purely stylistic analysis, but what the heck.
Le brings a unique style to MMA. Most of his professional combat sports experience comes in Sanshou competition, but he's anything but a pure Sanshou fighter. Instead he brings his collegiate wrestling skills and Taekwondo kicks to bear in the cage. It makes for a thrilling style combining kicks previously only seen in Jet Li movies with throws straight out of Judo's Budokan.
Silva is the classic Muay Thai/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter. One of several legends to emerge from Brazil's storied Chute Boxe academy, Silva literally pioneered the combination of brutal leg kicks, vicious clinch fighting and solid ground acumen that is the basis for so much of modern MMA. It's an open question whether his inside fighting style will have an answer for Le's side kicks and outside striking game. In the clinch, Silva will rely on his size advantage to try and hurt Le before he gets thrown.
Toss a coin kids, your guess is as good as mine in this one.
|Boxing||Surprisingly Good||1||Brawler of Brawlers||Silva|
|Kickboxing||The Best TKD in MMA||3||Top Notch Muay Thai||Le|
|Throws/Trips||Cung Le Airlines||3||Ok||Le|
|Ground and Pound||Weak||1||Vicious||Silva|
|Intangibles||Rusty?||1||It's Not the Years, It's the Miles||Tie|
|Overall||Movie Star||8/6||Fading Legend||Le