I’ll be more respectful than to include Legend FC (or One FC Network) contracted fighters into this. It’s obvious that Cung Le will get a look in for this event, to take place in the Las Vegas of Asia. White has even referred to him directly as scheduled to participate – and there is one possibly interesting marquee fight that they could use him for.
- Cung Le vs. Rich Franklin - 84kg (185lbs, middleweight)
The fight makes sense. Say what you will about Cung Le (8-2), but the former Strikeforce champion is an entertaining, unorthodox striker and while his 40yr old cardio holds out, he’s a threat to most middleweights on the feet. As for Franklin, he’s spent a couple of years at light-heavyweight having apparently given up on reclaiming the middleweight title he last held in 2006, when current (and still) champion Anderson Silva broke his nose horribly with knees from the clinch, and then bludgeoned him as challenger in a rematch. With Anderson obviously nearing the end of his long unbeaten reign on top, and Franklin having slipped further down the pecking order at 205lbs and out of the title picture, the opportunist in him must realise that there will be a chasm left at 84kg once the king goes, and at present it is only filled by Michael Bisping, Chael Sonnen and possibly Hector Lombard.
Cung is a very winnable fight for Rich. Though Franklin is a far more ordinary, orthodox striker, he has much more experience in fighting at the top level against big names, and after a post-2008 hiatus from the sport to focus on a film career, Cung returned not quite the same man who traded blow for blow with Frank Shamrock until “The Legend’s” arm broke at the end of round 3. It also still, to this day in the second half of 2012, remains to be seen if he has improved his grappling game or not. A win over Le is not a precursor to a UFC title shot by any means, but it would certainly be a step in the right direction for Franklin as he aims to relaunch his career as a title contender back in his old division sans the looming presence of his old conqueror Anderson Silva. Other potentially fun matchups that could be made, using Asian stars (let’s face it, there aren’t too many high profile Chinese stars, I’m sure Asian athletes in general will be utilised for the card on East Asian soil).
- Yushin Okami vs. any top non Asian 10-15 middleweight
- Yushin Okami vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
- Takanori Gomi vs. Dennis Hallman or Yves Edwards
This would be a divisional Legend vs. Legend fight featuring one of Asia’s biggest MMA stars.
- Kid Yamamoto vs. Takeya Mizugaki
- Chan Sung Jung vs. Hatsu Hioki
The latter would be fantastic – Hioki slipped up via robbery decision (again) – to Lamas, having passed up the opportunity of an immediate title shot at Aldo after beating Bart Palasczewski. That shot looks set to go to perennial fan favourite “Korean Zombie” Jung, but given Hioki has not lost legitimately since his leapfrogging to the top 10 in 2006 (a win streak tainted and despoiled by robbery losses to Omigawa and Lamas) why not throw this fun bout together in Asia in the “Asian Vegas”, for a shot at the featherweight king Aldo? Stylistically it would be intriguing; Jung is an ever improving all rounder whose propensity to taking punishment and walking forwards trading in the pocket led to his nickname, and Hioki is among the top three or so grapplers in the entire sport. Tell me you wouldn’t want to see it?
What fights would you like to see?
Twitter @ Daniel Fletcher