After several months of weighing his options, middleweight Cung Le has decided to hang up his MMA gloves.
Le’s longtime manager, Gary Ibarra, told MMAjunkie that the 42-year-old fighter’s retirement extends only to the cage, leaving open the possibility of a return to kickboxing, where he competed prior to his MMA debut in 2006 under the now-defunct Strikeforce banner.
However, Le said in a prepared statement (available below) that he intends to focus on his acting career, which has led him to several major roles as an actor and fight choreographer in action movies.
Several weeks ago, Ibarra said Le sent a letter to the UFC announcing his retirement. Prior to that, he was considered part of the promotion’s active roster.
Typically, the UFC freezes a fighter’s contract upon retirement, so Le would be obligated to the industry-leader should he change his mind about competing in MMA.
Le (9-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) retires with a 9-3 record, which included a stint as the Strikeforce middleweight champion. He most recently fought this past August at UFC Fight Night 48, where he suffered a fourth-round TKO loss to Michael Bisping. One month later, the UFC announced he tested positive for elevated levels of human growth hormone and suspended him first for nine months. Then, Le’s suspension was extended to 12 months with the promotion citing an error on the term’s length.
In a statement, Le denied any used of performance-enhancing drugs and said he was “completely surprised” by the UFC’s findings. He questioned the testing methods utilized by the promotion.
After questions were subsequently raised about the testing protocols used for UFC Fight Night 48, which the UFC self-regulated in Macau, as well as Le’s ability to contest the findings against him, the promotion announced it would allow the fighter to have his case heard by a third-party arbitrator. Then, after receiving medical advice from an unknown party, it concluded that the test results were inconclusive and rescinded his suspension.
Le subsequently said he no longer wished to fight for the UFC and contemplated retirement. After being cleared of wrongdoing, Le called the UFC to task for its handling of his case.
“While I feel vindicated in this matter, the UFC’s press release does little in the way of an apology of which I believe I am rightly owed after unfairly enduring the public’s scrutiny,” Le wrote.
Le subsequently requested his UFC release but was denied. In an interview, he said if he were to return to active MMA competition, it would be with his his former promoter, current Bellator MMA President Scott Coker, who ran Strikeforce before its acquisition by UFC parent company Zuffa in 2011.
This past month, Le was named as a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the industry-leader alleging it engaged in anti-competitive business practices. He was the only active UFC fighter attached to the litigation, which the promotion has promised to vigorously contest.
For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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After several months of thought and discussion with my wife and family we realize our future includes many things, but active competition in mixed martial arts is no longer one of them therefore I am officially announcing my retirement from active competition. Fighting will never be far from my heart and martial arts will always continue to be a part of my daily life. I have thoroughly enjoyed the career that I have been blessed with due in large part to all my fans and the many people who have helped me on my journey.
I want to personally thank my wife, Suzanne, my three Little Ninjas, my Mother, Sister and the rest of my incredible family for their support, prayers and inspiration. I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank Scott Coker for his long-time friendship and support of my career, Gary Ibarra for your tenacity, to Khoa Do for everything, Scott Sheeley, you know, and to Jane Estioko, thank you for your loyalty. I’d also like to thank all of my past and present USH Team Family members, I am grateful for every round.
I’d like to recognize the UFC for the opportunity they have provided me, the sport of mixed martial arts, and more importantly the fans who love it, you will never be far from my heart. It has truly been my honor and my privilege to entertain you.