Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le might tell you that his 21-month MMA layoff had no effect on the outcome of Saturday night’s upset loss to Scott Smith, but after watching Le suffer the first loss of his professional career, you can’t deny that he appeared winded towards the end.
Coming into “Strikeforce: Evolution‘s” main event on Saturday, Le owned a perfect 23-0 record in professional fighting, with 17 wins coming from kickboxing and the other 6 in MMA.
Realistically, he was only 1:35 seconds away from cruising to a unanimous decision victory, but his fatigue may have clouded his mental game, causing him to let his guard down.
Fortunately for Smith, he once again rose from the brink of defeat to send Le to the canvas with an unexpected short left hook to the dome.
Sure the bout could’ve been stopped in the 1stRound after Smith was in the fetal position with Le landing unanswered strikes to his grill, but Le’s inexperience in MMA prevented him from properly finishing his opponent.
Cage rust comes in different forms and it looks like Le suffered from the kind that causes fatigue, something that Strikeforce color-commentator, and former Le foe, Frank Shamrock, was quick to point out.
By the time the final round came, Le was still landing his spin-kicks at will, but you could see that they didn’t have the same snap as in the first 2Rounds.
So, where does Le go from here?
There’s a lot of interesting fights for him at middleweight, but how will he respond to losing for the first time?
Is the 37-year-old really even interested in fighting at this point?
Is he destined for another 21-month mixed martial arts hiatus?