Over the course of 16 professional kickboxing bouts and a pair of mixed martial arts contests, undefeated world San Shou kickboxing champion Cung Le has disposed of each of his opponents with little trouble. On Friday, Dec. 8, however, the 34-year-old superstar recognized for his unmatched throwing techniques will immerse himself in deeper waters when he steps into the mixed martial arts cage with former Spike TV reality fighter, Jason Von Flue, as Strikeforce’s “Triple Threat” cage fighting revisits HP Pavilion at San Jose.
“I definitely think he’s a step or two up,” said Le, a four-time K-1 Superfight winner and a two-time captain of The United States San Shou team that competed in Italy and China, respectively. “I think it’s going to be a really good fight because he likes to come forward and throw and that’s what I like to do too. Sometimes matches are made that aren’t crowd pleasing. I think this one is and we’re going to let it all hang out.”
Le’s transition from the world of stand-up fighting to mixed martial arts has, thus far, been flawless. During his debut in the cage on Friday, March 10, the Vietnamese American made quick work of fellow kickboxer Mike Altman, scoring a hard right hook to the head that sent Altman crumbling to the mat just three minutes and 51 seconds into the fight that was also held at HP Pavilion.
His second bout on June 9 saw Le go to work on the canvas for the first time in his career after throwing an old rival, “Mr. Unbreakable” Brian Warren, to the ground and assuming control over Warren from the top position. After the two fighters returned to their feet, Le hunted his opponent down and put Warren on the mat with a right hand at the 4:19 mark of the bout’s opening round.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of fire (in this fight),” commented the 31-year-old Von Flue. “I think somebody, if not both of us, is going to get stitches. I just see myself hitting him as hard as I can. He likes to hit people really hard, too. I don’t think either of us have any plans to play around on the ground for more than a throw. I’ve been working really hard on my stand-up skills and I just want to be the first person to KO him.”
Von Flue also acknowledged his opponent’s skill set. “I have a lot of respect for him and his abilities,” he said. “I think he’s the best at the world at what he does, but (mixed martial arts) is a different sport.”
A semifinalist on the second season of The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)’s reality television series, Von Flue is no stranger to pressure situations. During his stint with The Ultimate Fighter, the native of San Luis Obispo, Calif. pulled off an upset victory over a more seasoned Jorge Gurgel.
Following the conclusion of the television series, Von Flue was awarded a contract with the UFC and, soon after, made his first appearance with the organization during Spike’s live broadcast of “Ultimate Fight Night 3” where he squared off with Alex Karalexis. In the third and final round of their matchup, Von Flue choked out Karalexis.
Despite his apparent preference for remaining on his feet, Le boasts a rich history in grappling. As a high school wrestler at San Jose High Academy, he earned All American honors and went on to capture the California state wrestling championship during his first year of study at West Valley Junior College. To make his move to the sport of mixed combat a bit easier, Le sought the help of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trainer Garth Taylor as well as American Kickboxing Academy’s Javier Mendez and “Crazy” Bob Cook.
“I think, now, I’m a lot more aggressive and I’m learning some moves here and there and its very fun and challenging,” Le assessed. “It’s something I enjoy doing, working on my Jiu-Jitsu and my ground and pound.”
Von Flue is a product of The Pit, the famed training center that is also home to UFC light heavyweight king, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell. “I’m an entirely different fighter. I never used to throw punches before I started with him,” said Von Flue of the progression he’s experienced since becoming a student of Pit owner and head trainer, John Hackleman, over three years ago. “Now, I prefer to stand up. I’m more of a striker these days.”
Tickets for Strikeforce “Triple Threat” are on sale at Ticketmaster (408-998-TIXS) and Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com
) as well as at the HP Pavilion ticket office. Tickets are priced at $200.00, $150.00, $100.00, $75.00, $50.00, and $40.00, and $30.00.
The Dec. 8 card will feature Strikeforce’s first-ever 205 pound light heavyweight championship bout. Bobby Southworth, a veteran of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, will face off with hard-hitting road warrior and K-1 and Pride Fighting Championship veteran Vernon “Tiger” White for the vacant crown.
Strikeforce’s 155 pound lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will likewise attempt to extend his perfect record to 14-0 when the San Francisco, native is challenged for his crown by an opponent that has yet to be named.
Another lightweight sensation Josh “The Punk” Thomson will also top the bill. On Oct. 7, the 28-year-old former NCAA Division I wrestler put forth what was arguably his strongest effort to date when he controlled world Muay Thai champion and K-1 Max contender, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, for over a round before finding an opportunity to force Ludwig into submission with a guillotine choke hold.
Unbeaten submission wrestling stylist and former World Wrestling Entertainment “Tough Enough” reality show winner Daniel Puder (pictured above) will make his fourth career mixed martial arts appearance during “Triple Threat.”
The Strikeforce mixed martial arts event is being produced by Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment (SVS&E, www.svse.net
), a leading producer of major sporting and entertainment events and the exclusive producer of such events for San Jose, California’s largest entertainment venue, HP Pavilion. SVS&E’s many properties include “Fight Night at the Tank” professional boxing; the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks; and the annual ATP men’s professional tennis “SAP Open” event.
Strikeforce is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion that, on Friday, March 10th, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to 18,265 fans, the largest-ever attendance at a mixed martial arts fight card held in North America.