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Morning Report: Cung Le details rocky final years working with Zuffa and UFC president Dana White

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Cung Le might be retired from combat sports but he's not done fighting.

The UFC and Strikeforce vet is a plaintiff in the class-action antitrust lawsuit against Zuffa, along with fellow fighters Jon Fitch and Nate Quarry.

Following his final professional bout against Michael Bisping Aug. 23 in Macau, China, Le tested positive for elevated levels of human growth hormone in a drug test overseen by the UFC.

Le was initially issued a nine-month suspension, which was then extended to a year. Le and his long-time manager Gary Ibarra protested the result and the suspension was lifted in late October.

Speaking with Quarry on his 'Round X Round' podcast, Le detailed the final tumultuous years competing under the UFC banner.

"After fighting Patrick Cote [at UFC 148], I thought I broke my foot," said Le. "Dana White says, 'I need you for Macau.' I said, 'I don't think I can fight. My foot, I think it's broken.' I went to the doctor and they said, 'It's not broken but it's a deep bone bruise.' It can be as bad as a broken foot. Two weeks later I was in a walking boot in San Jose when Chris Weidman fought Mark Munoz. They were like, 'Why are you wearing that? We need you in Macau.' They were like, 'It's just a bone bruise. You'll be OK.' I told them I wasn't cleared. Doctor hasn't cleared me.

"Two weeks after that Dan Henderson fought Lyoto Machida[sic]. I was in Los Angeles and they told me to meet them after the fight. I told them the doctor still hadn't cleared me. 'Hasn't cleared you? You've got to step up for the company.' I told them I couldn't get the doctor to give me a notice. I don't think they can do that. I told them hopefully I would be cleared in a week. Dana says, 'OK. You've got to let me know right away.' That night I'm driving and my phone blows up. Dana had announced my fight with Rich Franklin in Macau."

Le says his foot never fully recovered in time for the fight with Franklin, a bout he won via knockout in the first round. Additionally, he says he was forced to undergo surgery just five weeks before the fight after injuring his elbow during a 'crazy' media tour in Asia.

Following the Franklin fight Le was in the mix to fight Michael Bisping in Manchester, England. According to Le he was pulled to serve as the quasi host of 'The Ultimate Fighter: China.' Le says he was paid less than 'a tenth' of what he would have earned in the form of a fight purse.

Inactive since November of 2012, Le returned to Macau to face Bisping in August of 2014. The controversy that followed caused irreparable damage to Le's reputation, so says the fighter.

While Le was still under suspension, Dr. Don Catlin, one of the foremost authorities on the study of performance enhancing drugs, criticized the result by stating Le's HGH levels were even lower than the expected post­-exercise reference range for an athlete giving a sample after strenuous activity.

Basically, the good doctor said Le's test results should be ignored.

Le presented this data to the UFC, but says he was still pressured to admit he was guilty of using PEDs.

"Gary [Ibarra] presented that to them," said Le. "At the time I didn't even want to talk to them. I was disgusted with what happened. They agreed to lift my suspension and let it go. Of course, the day Gary calls me and says [UFC] are going to release a thing saying that the suspension has been lifted and they're retracting what happened, Dana called me and tells me if I just admit it, it'll be easier.

"The public would forgive me more. 'Look at the pitcher from the New York Giants[sic], he got busted for something.' Dana was saying it's easier just to admit it. I just didn't want to talk to him anymore. Had to hang up. He might as well have just sent some thugs to my house to strong-arm me or something. It's just ridiculous. Sometimes you get the s**t end of the stick and they just happen to be the s**t."

Le believes he has two fights remaining on his contract with the UFC, but don't hold your breath hoping to see him in the Octagon again.

"Screw that," said Le. "Why? So they can 'screw up' again? I don't trust [White]. The funny thing is, in the beginning I thought Dana and Lorenzo Fertitta were really cool. Some people told you're only good to them as long as they can use you. I didn't believe it until it happened to me. Now I believe everything that everyone says about them. Bad stuff. Very bad."



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Announced yesterday (Aug. 20 2015)

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Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @SaintMMA and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.