Wanderlei Silva claimed a much-needed victory against Cung Le in an entertaining stand-up battle tonight at UFC 139.
Round one was action packed and mainly belonged to the debuting Le.
Silva was well aware of Le’s potent kicks and so was circling on the outside from the opening bell, but the former Strikeforce champ confidently stalked him around the cage.
It wasn’t long before Le’s spectacular array of strikes began to emerge and it was one such move – a spinning backfist that caught Silva unawares and momentarily dropped him.
That encouraged Le to unleash his full playbook of spinning kicks on the Brazililan, but while they certainly took their toll none had quite the same level of success.
Taking a leaf out of his opponent’s book Silva began to throw a few kicks of his own, and a partially landed head kick appeared to spur him on and he charged forward with a flurry of strikes.
As they broke apart it became apparent that Silva had landed a significant strike and Le was sporting a cut to the right side of his eye as a result. It was clearly troubling him and for the remainder of the round he was regularly found wiping blood away from it in-between exchanges.
That only increased Silva’s confidence and he ended the round with another flurry, showing that he was still well in this fight.
There was a tense moment as Silva spills to the canvas early in the second round, but it was just a slip and he quickly righted himself.
Le looked for more leg strikes, but they were not coming with the same frequency or intensity as before. As the action continued Silva was starting to close the distance a little more readily as he realised Le was less comfortable and less dangerous fighting on the back foot.
The strategy paid dividends as he ploughed forward with punches and connected. Le was looking tired and his mouth was open as he took in deep breaths and attempted to fend him off with kicks to the body.
There was no respite though and Silva continued to press forward and landed a big right that dropped Le up against the cage.
He managed to get back up, but probably regrets that straight away as Silva gets him in a clinch and began firing off powerful knees to his head that rearranged Le’s nose.
He broke away and began firing off more offense that landed, forcing Le to desperately dive down for a leg. His strength was sapped by this stage though and Silva easily shook him off and fired off a volley of hammerfists.
Wiith Le clearly dazed the referee decided to call an end to the fight at that moment with just nine seconds left in the round.
This was a big win for Silva who was under threat of being cut from the promotion if he had lost tonight. He showed great character to come back after being rocked in the first and looked like ‘The Axe-Murderer’ of old as he went in for the kill in the second.
Credit to Le as well though for putting on an exciting fight. He’s had a long layoff in-between fights though and that was partly to blame for his second round showing as he was clearly lacking the kind of conditioning needed for such a hard fought fight.