UFC 137 preview: Matt Mitrione looks to become a heavyweight contender with win over Cheick Kongo

Matt Mitrione(left) will face Cheick Kongo at UFC 137

The UFC 137 event will feature another heavyweight matchup between TUF veteran Matt Mitrione and MMA veteran Cheick Kongo. This is a classic gatekeeper match as Mitrione is looking to move himself into contender status with a win over Kongo. Let’s see how this one shakes out.

Cheick Kongo comes into this fight with a career record of (17-6) with 10 wins via TKO/KO and 2 wins via submission. Kongo was last seen in action in what is arguably the best come from behind KO victory in UFC history over Pat Barry back in June. Kongo is a good kickboxer with an improved wrestling game, and also has a good ground and pound game when he decides to use it. Kongo’s chin has become questionable over the past couple of years and I’m not sure he can take a punch the way he used to so that”ll be something to keep an eye one.

Matt Mitrione comes into this fight with a career record of (5-0) with 4 wins via TKO/KO. Mitrione was last seen in action back in June knocking out Christian Morecraft. Mitrione is an athletic heavyweight with good power in his hands and decent leg kicks. The one question mark with him is his ground game and takedown defense as he’s been put on his back a few times early in his career. However, Mitrione does look to get back up to his feet and doesn’t try to play the jiu-jitsu guard game that much which is smart.

Bet on Fighting has Mitrione as the small betting favorite at (-140) and Kongo as the underdog at (+110).

That line is about right considering that Mitrione has good knockout power and Kongo’s chin has been rather suspect lately. Also, Kongo doesn’t look to take his fights to the ground that often and isn’t the best wrestler when it comes to that anyways.

I think the difference in this fight will be Mitrione’s speed and athleticism. Mitrione moves really well for a heavyweight and should be able to use that movement to create angles on Kongo who likes to come forward and stalk his opponent at times. Mitrione will likely use a variation of strikes, most notably the straight left punch and legkicks.

Kongo will likely use an assortment of strikes as well, but has a tendancy to paw with his jab which could get him into some trouble with Mitrione. Kongo should close the distance and put Mitrione on his back if he is to fight with a smart gameplan as that’s where Mitrione’s most vulnerable at this stage of his career. Also, Mitrione’s cardio could possibly be an issue if Kongo is able to get him down and make him work. If Kongo could display the same ground and pound tactics he used on Mostapha Al-Turk he would be in business.

I think Mitrione takes this one via TKO. I think he hurts Kongo on the feet and finishes him off on the ground, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kongo take this fight either if he can get Mitrione to the ground and keep him there.

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