Cung Le To Debut In California’s Historic First MMA Event
January 10, 2006; New York, NY….Mixed martial arts’s oldest family rivalry will be re-ignited when former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight king Frank Shamrock (20-7-1) collides with undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Cesar Gracie (14-0) in a showdown at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on Friday, March 10th. Undefeated world San Shou kickboxing champion, Cung Le (16-0 (10 KO’s), will make his highly anticipated mixed martial arts debut while rising star Josh “The Punk” Thomson (10-1 (1 no contest) and seasoned veteran Eugene Jackson (12-7-1) will return to action during what will be the first mixed martial arts fight card sanctioned in California since the sport was officially legalized there last month.
“This guy came out and challenged me, hid behind his name, hid behind his students and, now, I’m finally gonna get a crack at him,” said Shamrock of his opponent and the feud that has been brewing between the two for the last two years. “I’ve always wanted to fight a Gracie and they’ve always ran from me but, suddenly, this one’s gone nuts so I’m gonna take care of him.”
At 33 years of age, Shamrock, a San Jose resident, is recognized as one of the greatest forces in mixed martial arts’s 12-year history. During his career, he has defeated the likes of former UFC light heavyweight king Tito Ortiz; Bas Rutten; and 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist, Kevin Jackson, whom he stopped in a world record 14 seconds by way of armbar submission. His victory over Japan’s Minoru Suzuki in January of 1996 earned Shamrock the prestigious King Of Pancrase championship.
The matchup with Gracie will be Shamrock’s first since March 27, 2003 when he easily submitted Bryan Pardoe by way of armbar in less than two minutes. In 1999, Shamrock temporarily retired to pursue a career in Hollywood. To date, he has appeared in the former HBO hit prison drama series, OZ, and Chuck Norris’s former CBS television blockbuster series, Walker Texas Ranger, as well as a nationally televised spot for fast food conglomerate, Burger King. Later this year, Shamrock will make his silver screen debut in the cage fighting drama No Rules that stars Gary Busey, Pamela Anderson, and Tom Sizemore. The film also features appearances by mixed martial arts legends Randy Couture and Don Frye.
A veteran of over 200 Jiu-Jitsu contests, Gracie has become a fixture in Pleasant Hill, California where, as a trainer, he has produced a host of world-class mixed martial arts talent by imparting on his students the teachings of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, the progressive style of combat conceived in the early part of the 20th century by his grandfather, Carlos. “This is a great opportunity for me to showcase my skills,” said Gracie. “Of course there’s a lot of pressure in terms of upholding the family legacy but, ultimately, the only person I can represent is me and I’m going to do that and show the world what I’m made of when I come face to face with Frank.”
The Shamrock-Gracie saga began twelve years ago when Gracie’s cousin, Royce, defeated Shamrock’s brother, Ken, en route to becoming champion of the first-ever UFC. The two fought to a draw during a rematch a year and a half later.
Le’s transition from the world of stand-up combat serves as a response to fight fans who have long beckoned the 185-pound limit, Vietnamese-born fighter to test his superior technique in the fiercely competitive waters of mixed martial arts.
Le’s last start came on June 4th at the HP Pavilion where he earned a unanimous decision over Shamrock protégé, Brian Ebersole, in a bout contested under San Shou rules. Le is also a four-time victor of K-1 “Superfights” staged in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Thomson is a veteran of both the UFC and Japan’s Pride Fighting Championship. His last start, a Muay Thai rules on the Le-headlined June 4th card, saw him quickly stop Toshiyuki Nakagawa only 54 seconds after the opening bell rang.
The matchup between Shamrock and Gracie was originally scheduled to take place on October 1st of last year. A delay in the proceedings necessary to ratify the bill sanctioning mixed martial arts in the state of California, however, caused a postponement of the bout.
Tickets for “Shamrock vs. Gracie” are officially on sale can be purchased at all Ticketmaster (408-998-TIXS) outlets and Ticketmaster online ( HYPERLINK “http://www.ticketmaster.com” www.ticketmaster.com) as well as at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070). Fans can also purchase tickets by logging on to the official “Shamrock vs. Gracie” website, HYPERLINK “http://www.shamrockvsgracie.com” www.shamrockvsgracie.com, and clicking on the “Tickets” link where a ticket order form is located. All completed forms should be returned for processing to Ms. Julie Lin either via fax: 408-863-0153 or email: HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com. Ticket prices start at $30.
Doors to the event will open at 5 PM Pacific Standard Time on March 10th. The first preliminary bout will begin at 6 PM.
The “Shamrock vs. Gracie” bill is being promoted and produced by Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment (SVSE, HYPERLINK “http://www.svse.net” 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 arena, the HP Pavilion. SVSE’s many properties include “Miller Lite Fight Night,” world championship boxing; the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks; and the annual ATP men’s professional tennis “SAP Open” event.