Cheick Kongo Loss At UFC 107: Anatomy of a career in decline

Losing to Frank Mir at UFC 107 came as no surprise. However doing so in 1:12″ flat,  after a vicious knockdown at 46 seconds which resulted in a rear naked choke,  sure came as a bit of a surprise. And if you wanna talk about adding insult to injury, here it is: Frank Mir who had been running his mouth may have, with that summary win,  succeeded at “handing Cheick Kongo his walking papers.” Just like he said. Just like he said. There was no poetic justice when it was needed most. But we digress.

Cheick Kongo UFC 107 Weigh-in - Pic Dave Mandel

Cheick Kongo – A painful study in contrasts between promise and performance, appearance and action and form and function. Is it too late for the chiseled Parisian? We hope not. (Picture: Dave Mandel)

With that loss, Cheick Kongo’s UFC record since  UFC 61 – Bitter Rivals on 7/8/06,  stands at 7 wins and 4 losses. That is a loss rate of more than half of his matches in the UFC – not a stellar record by any measure. It looks terminally dismal when one considers the promise that Kongo – a formidable specimen of chiseled  physicality with an equally impressive highlight reel – brought to the UFC. The fact that he is 34 and counting throws a rather sobering shadow onto the whole scenario.

Cheick Kongo’s overall record, inclusive of his pre-UFC fights is 14-6-1. While this recasts his situation, it also shrouds it against a more realistic assessment of a career that seems to be in decline since  UFC 82 (Pride of a Champion) against Heath Herring on 3/1/08.

Fact: with the exception of Mirko Cro Cop in  UFC 75, Kongo has not fared well against UFC stalwarts like Herring, Velasquez or Mir.  Sure, following UFC 82,  he did score wins against Dan Evensen, Mostapha Al Turk and Antoni Hardonk, but these were fighters with non-stellar records, at least by UFC standards.

Reflections on Cheick Kongo’s Career: One’s intuitive assessment of Kongo’s career would make one lean towards the conjecture that this was perhaps a man who started his fighting career late. But no, if reports are to be believed, Kongo started training in Kendo and Karate at the tender age of five.  His career record prior to UFC was marginal with slightly more wins than loses.  In UFC it hasn’t really changed with the exception that the losses are beginning to edge the wins, and the big momentum in more recent fighters with UFC stalwarts has been zero.  So what that means is that he is really fighting his way down the ladder.

Remember that Cheick Kongo was at one time whispered to be a top prospect against Brock Lesnar on top of Kongo’s own kvetching about how Lesnar had gotten a title shot “so fast” when there were other fighters who had been in the UFC longer than him.  My! how quickly things change. Kongo would neither want to see that clip of himself re-broadcast live or face a healthy Lesnar who would want to take him at his word.  The Brock Lesnar who re-arranged Frank Mir’s face in no time flat would kill Kongo. Plain and simple.

Some Painful Conclusions: Given the facts of Kongo’s career to date one can draw a few conclusions, some tentative and others not so.

1. Kongo is actually not as strong as he looks.

2. In the ring, he appears stiff and punches without the snap that delivers mondo power to an opponent’s face. (Snapping multiplies  a striker’s power.)

3. He has very poor perception, strike defense and a weak chin for such a strong looking dude.

4. His ground game is pathetic (His tussle with Gilbert Yvel was hilariously pathetic. We don’t know what was more laughable, the fighters’ performance or the the so called experts commentary.)

2. He tends to lack stamina, relative to his opponents.

3. He lacks to ability to adapt  to his opponents and think on his feet. As a result of the latter, he makes poor decisions. His decision to just stand in his corner there posturing while the Texas Crazy Horse barreled on his “vogueing”  ass was as puzzling as anything we have ever seen in MMA. Ditto his decision to repeatedly try and take down Roy Nelson when that tack was barely working.

Is it too late for Cheick Kongo to reinvent himself?  We hope not, but time may not be on his side.

copyright© 2009

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