UFC 144 preview: Cheick Kongo looks for third consecutive win against Mark Hunt

Cheick Kongo(left) will face Mark Hunt at UFC 144 in Japan

The UFC 144 event will feature a heavyweight bout between UFC veteran Cheick Kongo and former PRIDE standout Mark Hunt which will take place this weekend in Saitama, Japan. This should be a fairly entertaining fight as both fighters like to strike and have the ability to end fights quickly. A win here continues the resurgence of Hunt after coming to the UFC via the purchase of PRIDE. Cheick Kongo looks to keep his name on the short list of contenders with a win here against Hunt. Let’s see how this one shakes out.

Mark Hunt comes into this fight with a career record of (7-7) with four wins via TKO/KO. He was last seen in action winning an ugly unanimous decision victory over Ben Rothwell at UFC 135. Hunt has won his last two fights via unanimous decision after dropping six straight fights dating back to 2006. It should be noted that three of those losses came against arguably three of the best heavyweights of all time in Josh Barnett, Fedor Emelianenko, and Alistair Overeem. Hunt comes from a kickboxing background and has show the ability to absorb tremendous amounts of punishment. In fact, six of his seven career losses have come via submission. Hunt has lost a tremendous amount of weight since coming to the UFC and seems to be taking his career much more seriously than he did a few years ago.

Cheick Kongo comes into this fight with a career record of (17-6-1) with 10 wins via TKO/KO and three wins via submission. Kongo was last seen in action outlasting Matt Mitrione at UFC 137 to take the unanimous decision victory. Kongo has gone (3-0-1) since suffering back to back losses at the hands of former champions Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez. Kongo also comes from a kickboxing background, but has improved his wrestling quite a bit over the years with displaying violent ground and pound at times. Kongo’s chin has been tested a few times over the past few years, so be sure to keep an eye out if Hunt lands a big punch.

Kongo is the favoriteĀ at (-300) and Hunt as the underdog at (+230).

I agree with those odds in that Kongo is probably the more polished striker while also having a huge reach advantage in this fight. He has also shown much better cardio than Hunt has in the past.

I think this fight will mostly play out on the feet with Hunt pretty much having a puncher’s chance to win this fight. I expect Kongo to use his length and strike from range with a steady diet of leg kicks and straight rights with Hunt looking to close the distance and land power shots on the inside. If Hunt can do that he has a legitimate chance of hurting Kongo and possibly putting him away. Kongo will more than likely have to take this fight via unanimous decision as Hunt is pretty much a zombie that cant’ be stopped. In fact, he’s only been stopped once in his MMA career via TKO/KO, and he’s faced a who’s who of top strikers.

This should be a fun fight. I think Kongo takes this fight via unanimous decision, or possibly finishes a gassed Hunt later in the fight via TKO.

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