May 17, 2006; New York, NY….Since his defeat at the hands of world San Shou kickboxing champion, Cung Le, in a bout contested under San Shou rules two years ago, “Mr. Unbreakable” Brian Warren has desired nothing more than a rematch with the undefeated superstar. On Friday, June 9th, he will finally get his wish – in the cage.
“This is the fight of my life,” said the 31-year-old Warren, who will square off with Le in another 185-pound limit matchup during the 10-bout Strikeforce “Revenge” card that will take place at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion. “I’ve never wanted to rematch anyone in my life, but this is something that’s haunted me since we fought.”
During their first meeting, which was contested in Las Vegas on April 30, 2004, Le, San Shou’s most dominant force pound-for-pound, utilized his superior knowledge of the Chinese rooted combat system to gain favorable footing and repeatedly execute throws on his opponent before being awarded a unanimous judges’ decision after five rounds of battle. “I was a different person back then,” explained Warren. “I was more timid and I gave him a lot of respect, but I don’t give him that much respect anymore. He’s cocky and I want to change that and show everybody how good I am now.”
Warren’s optimistic outlook comes four days after he put forth a successful effort at Hollywood, California’s Palladium. In the card’s main event, Warren traded blows with Brodie Farber before securing a triangle choke on Farber that brought an end to the bout in the second round of action. “It was a good fight for me,” said Warren, “because now, going into this fight, I feel like a lot of my ring rust is finally gone and I can go in and execute against Cung the things that I’m capable of doing.”
The rules change for the rematch between Warren and Le expands the number of weapons that will be at each fighter’s disposal and, consequently, the number of possible outcomes. A submission fighting stylist, Warren contends that this will play to his advantage.
“This fight is gonna be totally different. As soon as the fight was over last time, I knew that if it had been (mixed martial arts), it would have been a totally different story,” he said. I’m not used to the fight just stopping and having to get back up. I’m used to the fight continuing so that kind of threw me off. This is something I’ve been doing for over eight years so, now, he’s coming into my element.”
Le’s tremendous success in San Shou competition, however, has overshadowed his experience in grappling that helped him earn All American honors as a high school wrestler and capture the California state wrestling championship during his first year of study at West Valley Junior College. After taking a long layoff from the sport to pursue his ambitions in the world of stand-up fighting, Le, 33, recently sought the help of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trainer Garth Taylor as well as American Kickboxing Academy’s Javier Mendez and “Crazy” Bob Cook in order to pick up where he left off with his ground fighting game and prepare for the fighting environment in the cage.
“I want people to underestimate me,” admitted Le. “I’m tough to submit. I’m always trying to work and improve my game all around. It’s an ongoing learning process and I’m excited because it’s like a new energy.”
The fight with Warren will be Le’s second start in a mixed martial arts rules bout. During Strikeforce’s inaugural mixed martial arts fight card on Friday, March 10th, he made a successful debut in the cage by scoring a first round technical knockout on Mike Altman with a hard right hook to the head that sent Altman to the mat 3 minutes and 51 seconds into the fight.
“(Altman) was tough too, but the fight with him showed that, after you take a few kicks or punches, the game changes,” said Le. “I know Brian Warren is looking for revenge and I’m sure he will remember what happened last time but, in the back of his head he may have lost to me already. (The last fight) can work for him or it can work against him. I don’t know and I don’t care what he’s gonna come and do. I know how hard I’ve been training and I’m confident whether (the fight) stays standing, or it’s up against the cage, or it’s on the ground.”
Le’s fearsome presence in the squared circle and on the small screen, which also showcased the fighter’s excellence during a Discovery Channel documentary, helped him score his first role in a major motion picture. Blizhniy Boy Final Fight, a film produced for the silver screen in Russia, will see him kicking and punching alongside the likes of fellow martial arts greats and actors Eric Roberts, David Carradine, and Oleg Taktarov later this year.
The Strikeforce “Revenge” bill will be headlined by a rematch between former UFC light heavyweight champion, Vitor Belfort, and Pride Fighting Championship superstar, Alistair Overeem. During their first encounter at Pride’s “Total Elimination 2005” event a year ago, Belfort and Overeem battled for nine and a half minutes (Note: Pride Fighting Championship schedules the first round of its bouts for 10 minutes) before Overeem secured a guillotine choke on Belfort and forced the Brazilian fighter to tap out.
Strikeforce’s “Revenge” card will also be highlighted by a matchup between undefeated 22-year-old Tyson Griffin and K-1 and UFC veteran, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, as well as a meeting between light heavyweights Bobby Southworth and James Irvin. Southworth introduced himself to the masses during Spike TV’s premiere season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series two years ago.
Strikeforce 155 pound champion, Clay Guida, will set out to defend his crown for the first time since he captured the vacant title by persevering over four-time UFC fight winner and Bay Area favorite, Josh “The Punk” Thomson. Thomson will also return to battle and attempt to steer his career back on track.
Former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar, Daniel Puder, will make his third career mixed martial arts appearance during the event.
Tickets for Strikeforce “Revenge” are on sale at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070) as well as at all Ticketmaster (408-998-TIXS) outlets and Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com). An arena seating chart can be easily accessed by visiting Strikeforce’s official website, www.strikeforceusa.net, and clicking on the “Tickets” link.
Strikeforce made history twice over on March 10th 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 the HP Pavilion, played host to 18,265 fans, the largest-ever attendance at a mixed martial arts fight card held in North America.
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.