Cheick Kongo's groundgame
Posted 02-29-2008 at 05:46 AM by Biowza
Well this is my first blog, since forever I'm assuming this works in the same way as a post so I'll just go by that. However if something happens, don't blame me, its my first time.
Now, this blog is intended to clarify my position on the ground game of Cheick Kongo, a lot of people have been saying "HUR HUR, Biowza thinks Kongo could sub Nogueira HUR HUR" as well as "Jus coz he subb'd sub guy who iz crap duznt maek him a ground wizerd, HUR". So let me clarify this for some people. Let me say first and foremost (and this is very important) that I do realise that Cheick Kongo needs to work hard on his ground game, and I do realise that Kongo doesn't by any means have a good ground game. However, what I mean when I say his ground game is "underrated" is that many people say that he has NO ground game or that it is terrible or pathetic or any other such variation. His ground game is far from this, it exists, just as well as it isn't 'pathetic' or 'terrible'. I'm going to break down each of my points so it is easier to read, and hopefully by the end you will at least acknowledge that the ground game of Kongo is
B) Not as bad as many people say.
Here I should talk about each of my points briefly, and let me say that you should read this blog with an open mind, that means if you know you won't accept my opinion (Mirko nuthuggers) then just stop reading now. Now once again I should remind that my contention is not that Kongo has a good ground game, just that it isn't as bad as the majority of this forum seems to think it is. This is because of a few reasons; Firstly, Kongo is good at getting back to his feet, Secondly he is good at not sustaining damage, and finally he is actually improving (I'll go into more detail with this).
Point #1, he is good at getting back to his feet.
Now, few would argue that Kongo's main game isn't the stand-up (infact, I don't think anyone would). This essentially means that Kongo's goals really are two-fold once the fight hits the mat, he wants to A) Sustain the least amount of damage possible, and B) Get the fight back to the feet. Now as we (or at least I) have seen throughout his career, he is decent enough at both things to post a winning record and become a UFC contender. But for some reason people continue to state that Kongo has "the worst ground game in MMA" and similar things. He is good at getting back to his feet, and if you've even half of his fights you have to give him this, his fights against Carmelo Marrero and Assuerio Silva are clear examples of his ability to get the fight standing. Now whether he uses technique or his massive strength to get this done is a non-issue, seeing as there really are no rules (within reason) of how you can get back to your feet. Against Carmelo Marrero (in which he lost a split decision) he was taken down relentlessly (which doesn't say much for his takedown defense, however its improving and I'll get to that later), however he persisted in getting back up and lost a close fight. Against Assuerio Silva, a similar situation in which he was again taken down a lot, yet once again nearly every single time he gets back to a vertical base. Even against Mirko in his latest fight (which is worthy of another discussion altogether) he showed his ability to get back to his feet when getting out of the mount of Crocop. Now people can say "Oh, these guys, Marrero and Silva are hardly elite competition" and I would agree, because my point isn't that he has a good or great ground game, it is that it is not as bad as people say it is.
Point #2, he is good at non sustaining damage
A reasonable assumption is that one would expect a fighter who is so imcompetant in an area of MMA to be beaten badly nearly every time the fight goes there. Sounds like a logical statement. However Kongo almost never sustains any significant damage at all once on the ground where he supposedly is "pathetic". In his 15 fight MMA career he has never been finished on the ground (Those who want to bring up the Gilbert Yvel fight, I'll address later), now at the very least, that has to say something for his ground defense. You watch his fights and you'll see that once it hits the ground, he barely gets a scratch on him he is really good at not getting hurt while on the ground. Bringing up his most recent fights (and ones easily accessible for the blog reader) he was never close to being finished by either Carmelo Marrero or Assuerio Silva (two fights where he was taken down a lot). Now once again I must state that he hasn't fought anyone capable of really dishing out the GnP like Tito Ortiz, nor has he fought a guy with the submissions like Nogueira but I'm not trying to say that he has a great ground game that has been tried and tested against the best of the best. My point is that it isn't horrible, or nearly as bad as everyone else says. Kongo is good at hooking up his opponent and essentially neutralising their strikes or submissions until an opening arises to get back to his feet (which is a good strategy for a striker).
Point #3, he is improving
What many people fail to realise or perhaps what many people choose to ignore, is the fact that Kongo's ground game is steadily improving. Once again referencing his most recent fights we saw him going from losing to Marrero due to constant takedowns, to a similar thing to Assuerio but getting up faster stopping SOME takedowns as well as dominating the stand-up (as you would hope so), all the way to his most recent fight where he got Mirko out of mount, didn't get taken down much (once I think) and actually showed signs of an offensive ground game in taking Mirko down a few times, passing to side control, and working some GnP (however effective it was is debatable). My main point is that it is clear that working with Juanito and Rampage at Big Bear has been a very good move for him, that is a great camp and it is producing results. I think I (as well as Joe Rogan) was most shocked with Kongo's most recent performance against Mirko Filipovic (Crocop). Ground talk aside, Cheick fought a great fight; he did what you're supposed to do against Crocop which is apply pressure, circle away from his what some people think is his only weapon (his left high kick), as well as press him up against the cage. Kongo applied this gameplan perfectly. But, we are talking about his improving ground game so it is wise to note how he used the cage to get a better position on Crocop and bucking him off along with his he didn't sustain any damage while Crocop was in mount. As mentioned, we also saw something weird, we saw shades of an offensive ground game coming into play with Kongo getting two (I think) takedowns, as well as passing half guard to side control and working some strikes from the top.
Now of course I expect people to continue to say "HUR, y u tink dat Kongo haz gr8 ground game?1" and there will always be the Mirko nuthuggers who say "HURRRR, but Kongo need Mirko in da ballz hurrrr" (I've addressed this many times, the illegal strikes were a non issue in the outcome of the fight) but hopefully I've said enough at least to show how Cheick Kongo's ground game is not as bad as people say, it isn't non existant, nor is it terrible, horrible, or pathetic. It is just a hole in his game that he is working on, I don't see it as being worse than any other fighter's weakness (within reason of course).