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Cung Le finishes with vicious one-punch knockout at UFC Macau

Franklin noncommittal about future after stunning loss

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cung Le, left, hits Rich Franklin during their middleweight Ultimate Fighting Championship match at the Venetian Macao in Macau on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Le won by a knockout in the first round.

Note: Full results from the card are available at the bottom of the page.

Cung Le doesn’t know how much longer he’ll fight in the UFC.

The 40-year-old middleweight, however, made sure fans will watch at least a snippet of his fights for years to come. Le secured a lifelong place in the highlight packages Saturday morning with a first-round knockout of Rich Franklin in the main event of UFC Macau.

Le knocked the 38-year-old former middleweight champion unconscious with an overhand right at 2:17 of the first round.

“Lucky punch,” Le said while celebrating the biggest win of his career.

But it was so much more than that. Le’s strike combined precision, power and perfect technique.

Franklin’s downfall started when he lowered his hands and kept his head stationary while firing a leg kick into Le’s thigh. Le cocked his hips and blasted forward with a right hand that landed square on Franklin’s chin.

Franklin went out cold right away and crashed face-first on the mat.

“When I hit him, I felt a little jolt in my elbow,” Le said. “It’s just an odd feeling. I don’t remember what happened. I was just so happy. All the blood went to my head and I got a little dizzy.”

The upset — sports books tabbed Le as a 3-to-1 underdog — marked Le’s second straight victory. He’s 2-1 since moving over from Strikeforce, where he once held the middleweight championship, with no plans on stopping for now.

“I love to do martial arts,” Le said. “I love to compete. If I can do it as long as I live, I’d do it, but I know my clock is ticking.”

Franklin sounded like he had a more immediate decision to make about his fighting future. This bout marked his first at 185 pounds in nearly five years.

Franklin dropped back down to middleweight from light heavyweight with hopes of making one last title run before he retired. The loss to Le makes it extremely unlikely that he could get back into championship contention.

“I’ll have to go home, sit down with my coaches and make an intelligent decision,” Franklin said of what’s next for him.

He’s gone 3-4, alternating wins and losses in every fight, since 2009. But Franklin can rest easy knowing his place in history is locked up, as he went from teaching high school math to winning a title seven years ago when the UFC started to rise to prominence.

Le took a step in establishing his own legacy in the UFC’s first Chinese card Saturday. After a few minutes had passed and he was out of the octagon, Le started to give himself more credit. He changed “lucky” to a more flattering adjective.

“It was a money punch,” Le said.

Other results from UFC Macau:

Thiago Silva submitted Stanislav Nedkov with an arm-triangle choke at 1:45 of the third round in their light heavyweight bout. Silva won a $40,000 Submission of the Night bonus for the finish.

Dong Hyun Kim defeated Paulo Thiago by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26) in a welterweight bout.

Takanori Gomi beat Mac Danzig by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) in a lightweight bout. Gomi, the former PRIDE champion and most decorated Japanese mixed martial artist of all time, has recovered from a two-fight losing streak to win two in a row.

The only Chinese fighter on the UFC roster suffered his third straight loss. Jon Tuck won a unanimous decision over Tiequan Zhang in their lightweight bout.

Takeya Mizugaki dominated Jeff Hougland en route to a unanimous decision win (30-27, 30-27, 30-25) in a bantamweight contest to open the main card.

Alex Caceres slipped past newcomer Motonobu Tezuka with a split decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29) victory in a bantamweight bout.

John Lineker defeated Yasuhiro Urushitani by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in a flyweight fight.

Riki Fukuda notched a victory over Tom DeBlass by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in a middleweight contest to start the card.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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  1. 40 year-olds and the UFC. Just hype. Collecting a pay check. And our money.