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Old 06-09-2009, 01:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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UFC 99: Cain Velasquez Looking to Break out, Cheick Kongo Seeking Title Contention

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UFC Heavyweight fighter Cain Velasquez's road to the relevance has been somewhat of a rare feat in today's MMA landscape. In only his third professional MMA bout, Velasquez was thrust into the UFC spotlight against a formidable opponent in Brad Morris at UFC 83. It took Velasquez only 2:10 to prove that the tremendous hype surrounding him wasn't unwarranted. Two more wins later, Velasquez will now be looking to break into the upper-echelon of the UFC's Heavyweight division at UFC 99.

It won't be an easy task however. Originally matched up against the former PRIDE veteran Heath Herring, Cain will now have a tougher task in trying to squeeze punches through the massive reach of French Muay Thai striker Cheick Kongo. Kongo is currently riding a three-fight win streak with wins over Dan Evensen, Mostapha Al Turk, and Antoni Hardonk.

There are many questions that will be answered when these two meet in Cologne, Germany on Saturday. Most importantly, is Cain Velasquez ready for the upper-echelon of the division? Has Kongo's takedown defense and ground tactics improved? Will the UFC grant Kongo a title shot if he manages to beat Cain? It's definitely a much more interesting matchup with the prospect that Kongo's name has come up in title talk, but a Velasquez win would crush those hopes and send Kongo back down the ladder.

One thing is for certain, this matchup is crucial to the makeup of the division toward the top. Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar at UFC 100 and Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102 will help decide the future matchups at the top. Shane Carwin is currently nursing his injuries while Junior Dos Santos is rumored to potentially be fighting Justin McCully at UFC 102. If Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic puts together any type of run in his next few fights in the UFC, he'll likely get a shot before a lot of the lower-ranking guys, but he'll have to go through Kongo, Gonzaga, Carwin, or Santos, all very tough matchups for an older, less dangerous Mirko.

I imagine that the UFC will push Kongo toward the top quickly if he defeats Velasquez while a Velasquez win would only set him up for an even tougher fight in order to continue exposing the kid to the UFC's fanbase. Kongo has more than enough fights in the Octagon and on PPV cards to be recognized by fans, and he's managed to string together some impressive finishes to boot. If Mir loses to Lesnar, we won't be seeing Mir vs. Kongo and likely won't see a quick turnaround by Nogueira or Couture to fight Lesnar. That leaves Kongo available for a late fall showdown with Lesnar.

In any case, it's apparent that this showdown at UFC 99 will make or break both of these guys. Kongo has a chance to gain title contention while Velasquez has the potential to begin taking on the competition that will get him into that title contention role. A loss for either fighter will hurt their chances tremendously as they are currently on the outside looking in. I'm doubtful that simply being on the "outside" is hardly where the UFC will want either of these guys in a somewhat shallow division. Pick your horse, fans!
Source: http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2009/6/9/...uez-looking-to
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Old 06-09-2009, 03:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Nice read.

I'll be pulling for Cain in this fight. He's a solid young stud in the HW division (save the suspect cardio in his last fight). At the same time, I'd like to see Kongo matched up against Lesnar, it would be an marketable fight. Though I believe kongo would get crushed in that fight... and that would be fun to watch!

Both Cain and Kongo have a lot riding on this fight, though Kongo has more to lose. Can't wait!
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