Cung Le Primed For Cage Fighting Debut

Rematch with Altman will make history twice over at first-ever sanctioned mixed martial arts event in California

February 22, 2006; New York, NY….Following a sensational run through San Shou kickboxing’s 185 pound division, undefeated world champion, Cung Le (16-0), will answer the demands of fight aficionados when he makes his mixed martial arts debut against a former opponent, hard-nosed veteran, Mike Altman (19-8). The contest will take place during “Shamrock vs. Gracie,” California’s first-ever sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card, which will unfold at San Jose’s HP Pavilion on Friday, March 10th.

“I’m not going in there thinking that I’m invincible because I’m the best in San Shou. I’m going in with an open mind and a competitive spirit,” said the 33-year-old Le, a two-time captain of the United States National San Shou squad that competed in Italy and Hong Kong, respectively, as well as a four-time winner of K-1 Superfights that took place in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Le and Altman met for the first time in 1999 in San Jose. In the third round of action, Le scored a roundhouse kick to the head that put Altman on the canvas. Altman beat the referee’s count, but Le quickly sent him down for the 10 count with a left hand to the body.

“My conditioning is a lot better for this fight so I’ll be a lot more confident throwing blows,” said Altman, who accepted the first bout with Le on only three weeks notice. “I’m going to have a lot more power and be able to throw with bad intentions.”

While many fight fans understand the threat Le poses on his feet, it is the decorated fighter’s strength on the ground that they are unaware of. At the age of 14, Le began wrestling competitively and, in his junior year of high school, he earned All-American honors. During the first of two years that he studied at West Valley Junior College in Saratoga, California, Le became the California state wrestling champion.

To sharpen his grappling skills for the March 10th affair, Le has been working with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu trainer Garth Taylor as well as American Kickboxing Academy’s Javier Mendez and “Crazy” Bob Cook. “It’s very exciting. I enjoy being a student again,” he said. “With the Jiu-Jitsu, you have to realize that no matter what position you’re in, there’s something you have to worry about. So, it’s definitely very challenging.”

Altman will enter the cage with three mixed martial arts bouts under his belt. To peak his game for the rematch with Le, which he considers “the pinnacle” of his fight career, the Houston, Texas dweller assembled an all-star team of training partners including Yves Edwards and Hermes Franca. “I’ve been training with ‘A’ class guys. They’ve tooled me up and I feel really sharp,” he said. “This is my 20th year in martial arts and I feel like every day has been in preparation for this fight.”

The “Shamrock vs. Gracie” bill will be headlined by the long-awaited showdown between bitter rivals Frank Shamrock (20-7-1) and Cesar Gracie (14-0). Rising stars and former collegiate wrestling standouts Josh Thomson (10-1) and Clayton Guida (19-3) will square off with each other while undefeated prospect, Gilbert Melendez (10-0), will do battle with David Padilla (5-4). Fan favorite, Eugene “The Wolf” Jackson (12-7-1), will make his long-awaited return to action when he faces Jorge “The Naked Man” Ortiz (7-2). The star-studded card will also see former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar and “Tough Enough” reality show winner, Daniel Puder (1-0), make his return to the world of mixed martial arts against an opponent that has yet to be confirmed.

Tickets for “Shamrock vs. Gracie” are officially on sale and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster (408-998-TIXS) outlets and Ticketmaster online ( 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,, 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: 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,, 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.

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Michael Afromowitz