On yesterday’s installment of the Gross Point Blank podcast, UFC middleweight Cung Le revealed that he’s seeking to be released from his UFC contract. Despite having two fights remaining on his deal, Le has asked his manager Gary Ibarra to request his release.
“I’d just prefer not to be part of the UFC anymore,” Le told host Josh Gross. “I’d prefer not to put the effort into something I don’t believe in anymore.”
Le’s negative stance on the UFC stems from the dreadful way that the promotion handled his drug testing at UFC Fight Night 48 in August. In short, the UFC farmed out drug testing for that event to a fly-by-night laboratory operation in Hong Kong that wasn’t equipped to handle enhanced PED screenings, suspended Le for nine months when his sample came back positive for elevated HGH, bumped the suspension up to 12 months when Le started to make noise about it, then canceled the suspension when it became apparent that the testing lab’s methods were a joke — but never apologized to Le publicly.
It’s not the kind of the thing that Le can easily forgive and forget. Because there was so much speculation about Le’s action-figure physique leading up to the fight, his positive test — despite its total lack of legitimacy — convinced many fans that Le was a cheater, and put a major dent in his reputation. As Gary Ibarra explained to Gross:
“The consensus prior to this situation was that Cung was that he was an honorable man,” Ibarra said. “A family man, a true embodiment of what martial arts is: Respect, honor, he embodied all of those things. And now his career will ever be tarnished, or forever have something of an asterisk next to it, due to something that is no fault of his own. Does anybody deserve that? No, absolutely not. I would hope the UFC would understand that and recuse themselves from further drug testing when there are no athletic commissions, and leave drug testing in the hands of people who specialize in drug testing so that this doesn’t happen again.”
At 42 years old, Le’s competitive days are running out, and he hasn’t decided yet if he’ll continue fighting. However:
“If I would fight for anyone, it would be Scott Coker,” Le said. “I would not fight for the UFC after what happened.”
Scott Coker is currently the president of the UFC’s closest rival, Bellator, but Coker and Le previously had a long and fruitful working relationship together in the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion. It seems unlikely that the UFC would let Le out of his contract just so he can skate off to Bellator. Then again, keeping a disgruntled high-profile fighter on the roster might be even more harmful. We’ll let you know how it shakes out.