Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fight Week Previews: Velasquez vs. Kongo

It's time to find out how good Cain Velesquez truly is, as he takes a massive step up in competition with Cheick Kongo.

Originally slated to take on heavyweight Gatekeeper Heath Herring, the former Arizona State Sun Devil will now face a man many believe will be in line for a title shot should he earn the win on Saturday.

I'm two days away from making my Punch Drunk Predictions and I still have no idea who I'm taking in this one. Time to break it down.

Cain Velasquez (5-0) versus Cheick Kongo (24-4-1)
Clearly, Kongo has the edge in terms of experience and strength of competition. He has five times as many fights as the AKA product and has spent time inside the cage with the likes of Cro Cop, Christian Wellisch, Antoni Hardonk and the man he is replacing, Heath Herring.

Velasquez, on the other hand, received his toughest test in his last fight, courtesy of Denis Stojnic. Incidentally, Stojnic is also on the UFC 99 card, fighting Stefan Struve in a "Loser leaves UFC" match. I'm just sayin' is all...

I'm calling the training match up a wash, as both AKA and Wolfslair are outstanding facilities that offer strong camps, quality training partners and send prepared fighters into battle every time. Which brings us to the style question.

While Velasquez has certainly improved his stand up since coming to the UFC, he'll need to go back to his bread and butter - wrestling - bringing the much larger Frenchman to the canvas for some old fashion ground and pound.

That's a lot easier said than done, of course, because Kongo will undoubtedly be looking to keep this standing where he can use his full arsenal of striking skills to bloody Velasquez, who many are calling the future of the heavyweight division.

This is a fight that asks a classic question: do you take the established veteran or the mostly untested, but potentially dominating young star?

I need a couple more days to sort it out.

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