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UFC 148: 'Healthy' Cung Le trained smarter, not harder, for Patrick Cote fight on July 7

Photo of Cung Le (right) by Esther Lin for Strikeforce.
Photo of Cung Le (right) by Esther Lin for Strikeforce.

Before Cung Le made his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut at UFC 139 against Wanderlei Silva on Nov. 19, 2011, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion had not seen action in 17 months.

With a blossoming acting career over in Hollywood keeping him busy, his fighting career was put on hold and questions arose whether he would ever return to the combat sports world. Those questions were quickly answered, though it took longer than some may have expected, as Le signed the dotted line to face ‘The Axe Murder' in San Jose California.

His return to action, however, didn't go as smooth as he may have wanted. Silva battered the Sanshou specialist for two rounds using his brutal Muay Thai expertise which resulted in a broken nose for Le, as well.

Many attributed the long-layoff for Cung's lackluster performance in the Octagon that night, but according to Le, it was the brutal beatings he took in his training camp leading up to the bout with Wanderlei that affected him more than anything.

MMA Weekly has the details, after the jump:

"I think the biggest thing that affected me was I wasn't used to the heavy pounding. It wasn't during the fight that affected me, it was during training camp. Training with bigger guys like King Mo and all the good fighters over there at AKA, you get banged up. It seemed like I was getting injured every other week. So definitely, that was the biggest part in being healthy for the fight."

Fully rested and healed, Le assures everyone that fighting is his priority right now and he is fully prepared ahead of his bout with Patrick Cote this Saturday (July 7, 2012):

"I just want to compete at the highest level I could and perform to the best of my abilities. I feel like I have a great training camp. It's not like I went from Wanderlei and started filming movies. I healed up and got right back in there and changed my training regimen around to make sure that I realize I can't just go 185 percent all the time and wear down the body. You got to rest, you got to recover and you just got to train smarter. For this camp, I trained a lot smarter. I'm in a lot better shape. I'm going in without being all banged up. Sparring with King Mo every other day took its toll on my body."

Le was originally set to face Rich Franklin at UFC 148, but UFC officials pulled "Ace" from the bout and matched him up against Wanderlei at UFC 147 and pegged Cote as Franklin's replacement.

A much-needed win for Cung will prolong his stay with the UFC, a loss, on the other hand, could find him back in "Tinseltown" sooner rather than later.

Which will it be?

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