The unrealised promise of Cheick Kongo

UFC 99 put on full display why Cheick Kongo may not make it to the big leagues in UFC. While he is a fearsome Muay Thai striker who clearly distinguished himself against Mirko Cro Crop, his checkered career has suffered from the two-steps-forward-one-step-back syndrome and a one dimensional stand up style that is ill-equipped to deal with the multi-faceted octagon strategy of the best UFC fighters of today. UFC 99 clearly proved it. He was outwitted and out-manhandled by a similarly constituted fighter whom he knocked down twice in that fight.   We just hope that in time Kongo will not exit the way of another of his Parisian compadres, Professor X,  Xavier Foupa-Pokam. Such an exit would just be too sad for a man who came in with an impressive highlight tape and and the high hopes of an expat.

Cheick Kongo:A UFC dream deferred.

Cheick Kongo: An imposing physique but lackluster career. Is this a case of A UFC dream deferred?

See the full UFC 99 fight video here.

The weak conditioning, poor cardio and an inability to think on his feet. It is almost infuriating to watch. One can imagine how hard it is for the trainers in his corner. Against Cain Velasquez (26), Cheick Kongo (34) looked old and spent, the few hard strikes he rocked Velasquez with notwithstanding. The picture of a bloodied, winded Kongo was sadly emblematic of fighter who may not make it up the headliner marquees in UFC. What a waste  for a fighter who came into UFC with tons of great publicity.  Skill may be hard to muster, but there is really no excuse for poor conditioning or weak-ass cardio for a guy with his physical endowments. Being 34 is not good enough of an excuse. (Randy Couture who is all of 46 took that excuse away.)

The same goes for some of the strategic mistakes Kongo makes in the ring. His fight against Velasquez is a classic case (The repeated take-downs by Velasquez, for example, did little to teach Kongo to stay out of clinches with the which led to further take-downs). His fight against Heath Herring was another. Take the first few seconds after the first bell of  UFC 82 against Heath Herring. Kongo’s decision to just stand there in his corner like poser on a Paris  sidewalk as Heath Herring barreled towards him and rocked him, was beyond comprehension! If you can find the video somewhere, check it out and tell us what planet Cheick Kongo was on in those few seconds following the opening “bell”.

Cain Velasquez: Not yet ready for prime-time too …. or Brock Lesnar (Paging the Last Emperor): What this fight also reveals is that Cain Velasquez may not yet be ready for heavyweight prime time. The boiler room whispers about Velasquez vs Lesnar are just silly.  The boy is not even close. At this point in his career he is just is another schoolyard ground and pound scrapper who is not yet ready to fight with the beast that Lesnar is. He just does not have enough  stand-up game and would be killed by Lesnar on the ground. His 240lbs at 6’1″ is about the same as Frank Mir’s, sans the octagonal seasoning. He would not stand a chance against Lesnar’s 265lbs of corn-fed mania. The same applies to Parisian, Cheick Kongo.

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