Cung Le Talks Critics, Return, Jake Shields And More

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THe following is an interview excerpt done between Heavy.com and Cung Le:

Heavy.com: There seems to be a perception on the internet, at least among the hardest of the hardcore fans, that you are either handpicking your opponents or Scott is hand-picking easy opponents for you. Why do you think that perception exists?

Cung Le: I don't know. Those fans aren't the ones handling the promotion of the show, or trying to sell tickets. They're not the ones putting these shows together. Everyone is going to have their own opinion, of course. And I understand that there are hardcore MMA fans. But in order for this sport to grow, the sport needs your average fans like the NFL, like baseball or basketball.

We need those people to follow MMA and to become fans of MMA. And sometimes the matches that the hardcore fan wants to see might not appeal to the regular, casual fan. And I think Scott Coker, out of everyone involved with Strikeforce, understands that. He understands that in order to move the company to a higher level, to the level of other major league sports, to the level of football or baseball or basketball, you have to get more fans. And if we're just trying to put the fights together that hardcore MMA fans want to see, how are we going to move forward?

I've sat down and asked Scott Coker about that, and we agree. The more fans you get, the more you can pay your fighters. It becomes more lucrative for the fighters and for the promotion, too. I trust in Scott's vision and I believe that he's doing the right thing.

I mean, look at someone like Jacare (Ronaldo Souza). If the hardcore fans want to see a jiu-jitsu match, I'm sure they can match Jacare up with Jake Shields. They can have a jiu-jitsu match. And then people who haven't seen MMA will watch that fight, and they won't understand it. They'll think MMA is ground fighting.

You need compelling matchups. The Scott Smith fight is an interesting fight. I don't think that's an easy fight for me, not at all. That's not a handpicked opponent! For me to come back after being away for two years and fight someone like Scott Smith? I don't think that's a handpicked opponent at all.

People can say whatever they want to see. They're just keyboard warriors. Go right ahead and keep clicking away at that keyboard. It doesn't bother me at all.

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