Cung Le made news last week as he went on the Gross Point Blank Podcast to make it publicly known that he has requested his release from the UFC due to the fallout of his drug test at UFC Fight Night 48 earlier this year.
Since that interview, many mixed martial arts observers have wondered what the future would hold for Le if he was granted his release by the UFC.
Let’s first state this: It’s a huge “if” the UFC will release Le. The organization did not handle his drug test from earlier this year correct, but I would be surprised if we saw the UFC release him from his contract and let him sign with any mixed martial arts promotion.
Now if Le was given his unconditional release, many believe the front runner for his services would be Bellator, due to Le’s relationship with Bellator President Scott Coker. Another top landing spot for Le would be ONE FC in Asia.
When the news of Le going public about wanting to be released, I sent out the following tweet.
So Cung Le wants out of UFC and people are bringing up Le to Bellator. Please explain why Bellator signing Le is a good move for them?
Those are just some of the comments I received. Some comments that I agree with and some that I don’t. I will agree that Le would be a draw in the San Jose area, but he is not a needle mover on television. To be a needle mover in my opinion, you have to be a fighter that the casual fans know. If I were to go to a sports bar on a fight night, how many MMA fans there would know Le? My guess, not many.
There are some “fun, exciting” fights that Bellator could do with Le. The fights that come to mind immediately are Le against Alexander Shlemenko, Melvin Manhoef, and Doug Marshall. While those are fights that would likely deliver the type of fights that the new regime of Bellator is looking for, signing Le is not what Bellator should do.
Le is going to come at a high price tag. His last disclosed UFC salary was at UFC 148 against Patrick Cote and he was paid a flat disclosed salary of $150,000. Even if Bellator could get him to a $50k/$50k deal, it just does not make sense to me from a business sense.
Can Le bring over 1 million fans to the television set to watch him fight? Maybe he can, but he does not bring the type of fans to the table that fighters like Tito Ortiz or Quinton Jackson do. Instead of signing Le, Bellator should look to be signing prospects that they can develop. Find guys out of camps like American Top Team, Jackson/Winkeljohn MMA, Blackzilians, Team Alpha Male, and others.
Bellator needs to make money to keep Viacom invested in the product and what is best for business is to pass on signing Le and concentrate on finding the next stars of this sport.