Last night the 39-year-old Cung Le made his UFC debut in front of a home town crowd at San Jose's HP Pavilion against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 139. Silva made sure it was a rude and brutal welcome, crushing Le's nose and getting a TKO finish in the second round.
Le, whose flashy style of spinning kicks and high impact throws and slams immediately drew fan attention, had long been criticized for not testing himself against big-time opposition. After last night's fight that can no longer be said. The legendary Silva, a 35-year-old veteran of 47 MMA bouts, may not have the iron chin and quick reflexes he had when he was Pride's middleweight (200 lbs) champion, but he had more than enough left for Le.
Initially Le's unconventional style stymied Silva and Le hurt him with side kicks and a couple of spinning back fists. But Le, who came into the fight looking pudgy and out of shape, quickly tired. Once Le slowed down, Silva forced the fight into punching range where his size and power advantage could be brought to bear.
Once Le was stunned, Silva applied the Thai plum -- a vicious hold with two hands behind the opponent's neck that allows the face to be forced down into uprising knees with great force -- and crushed Le's nose with a series of brutal knees.
It remains to be seen if Le will want a second taste of UFC competition. His movie career has often taken him away from the cage and at his age he might not have another competitive run in him. The bout was only Le's second-ever loss in a combat sports career going back to 1997.