by John Morgan on Nov 21, 2008 at 2:40 pm ET
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- When undefeated Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le (6-0) defeated MMA legend Frank Shamrock (23-9-2) earlier this year, the Vietnamese San Shou stylist's popularity was at an all-time high.
Le has since capitalized on that popularity by transitioning from the cage to the silver screen. Le recently discussed with MMAjunkie.com
) why he hasn't seen MMA action since that March bout.
"March 29 to be exact," Le said. "I just came back from Berlin, shooting a movie with Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, the producers of 'Resident Evil,' Jeremy Bolt, Robert Kulzer. I was over there for two-and-a-half months. And before I went over there, I was really locking into my character, taking private lessons with acting coaches.
"I went out there, and I didn't stay up with the MMA world. I was just focused. I really wanted to do a good job because it was a really big-time movie and a big step for me."
While the decision to temporarily walk away from the sport while he was on his way to the top may seem strange to some, Le views the move as a pioneering opportunity of sorts.
"I feel like if someone in the MMA world were able to make it into the film world, the sky's the limit," Le said.
Le said the project in Berlin was just the tip of the iceberg in his cinematic development.
"In two weeks I leave to Beijing, China, to do a cameo role for Woo-ping (Yun), who is the action director for 'The Matrix,' 'Kill Bill,' 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,'" Le said. "They gave me dialogue in Chinese. I have to memorize that. I open this huge epic fight scene. It's definitely like a whirlwind for me."
Le said the progress he is making in the film world may soon open a few new opportunities for his fellow fighters.
"I already told Josh (Thomson) I'm doing a few projects where they're giving me a lot of room to like, 'Hey, what fighters should we get?'" Le said. "I told Josh and a couple of my other fighters I'm going to pull them in to doing a couple of fight scenes. I think right now I've got a verbal commitment on a big project, a really good budget. They're going to surround me with good actors and let me star in the movie. But nothing has been signed, so I don't want to give too much away."
Le said he doesn't want fans to think he has given up on MMA. But the 36-year-old wants to take advantage of every opportunity available to him at this time.
"I'm taking all these crazy meetings in Los Angeles," Le said. "I want to take advantage of these opportunities before -- it's not like I'm some spring chicken, you know."
But even as Le is continuously offered new acting possibilities, Le said MMA is still close to his heart.
"Right now my focus is on the movies, but I'm still training just in case something big happens," Le said. "I came up through fighting. I came up through martial arts. I would never abandon that.
"Whether it's a big fight that everyone demands, or it's doing something that will boost the MMA or martial arts world and have one of its own in something else -- but still carrying the name -- then I'm going to try to be the best I can in whatever I do. But in the meantime, just hold tight and support me in this. I'm always going to support MMA, martial arts, and we'll see. Let's take it one day at a time."
In the meantime, Le said he is still staying in shape in anticipation of a potential "huge" bout.
"I still got a lot in me," Le said. "I've got some great fighters in my gym. So right now I'm just coaching and doing the movie thing. I'm staying in shape just in case something huge comes up. And I'll be ready to go."
And what does Le consider a "huge" fight?
"It'll probably never happen, but everyone's all, 'When are you going to fight (UFC middleweight champ) Anderson Silva?'" Le said. "I'm just happy and honored that they would speak the same breath with that. I believe Anderson is pound-for-pound the best in the world. Well-rounded, very powerful.
"But someone like me, I would engage. I wouldn't run."