Two kickboxing KO artists look to use each others face for a canvas this Saturday in Saitama
The greatest wins of Mark Hunt's career came in his PRIDE days. This Kiwi boy is no stranger to Saitama, Japan. He holds wins over Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Cro Cop there when both legends were in their prime. While Japan may be a new setting for Kongo's fighting life, the Wolfslair Frenchman has to be one of the coolest customers in all of the sport. A win for him this weekend puts Kongo on a five-fight winning streak, a feat that is virtually unheard of these days in the Heavyweight division. Unless of course your name is Junior dos Santos.
Let's have a little fun with this breakdown after the jump off.
If this stays up, a large man will fall hard. Numbers don't lie when heavy hitters like these two collide. Hunt and Kongo have celebrated just under 40 knockouts when you combine each fighter's kickboxing and mixed martial arts careers. Even as both fighters find themselves close to the age of 40, they still possess the level of power and the aim to finish the job. You can find recent visual evidence of this for each fighter. See Hunt vs. Tuchscherer. See Kongo vs. Barry. You can find both of those KO's somewhere under the smoothviolence genre. Shout out to Ben Henderson.
If someone gets clipped early in this one expect the fighter in trouble to hold onto his opponent for dear life. Such a tenacious effort would force us, as viewers, to follow these men with our eyes to the fence or the ground, where things could get a bit ugly. Kongo has the ability to stall a fight with the best of them against the cage. He displayed what may or may have been something of a short grabbing fetish against Travis Browne the fall before last which almost cost him the fight in the end. If Kongo does decide that he'd like to take down Hunt early I don't see him having any issue there either. We haven't seen much evidence of this "Greco Roman" background from Kongo in his UFC days. An opponent like Hunt could give Kongo the opportunity to put on a little clinic.
Really when it comes down to it wrestling isn't either man's forte. Hunt hasn't gotten any worse over the years and Kongo hasn't gotten any better. I give this category to Kongo based on nothing more than muscle and his ability to wall and stall.
Luckily for Mark Hunt his opponent isn't exactly a submission player. The "Super Samoan" has come out on the wrong end of seven fights in his mixed martial arts career. Six of them came by way of submission. Kongo has only submitted two opponents over the years and one of them was via elbows to the body.
While Kongo comes ahead in the breakdown two categories to one, there really isn't aspect of the fight that he's running away with. The way I see it, either we're going to be treated to a gritty kickboxing war, or we may be in for a long night of huffing and puffing. Hunt rising about the .500 marker in his MMA career after entering 2011 with a 5-7 record would be quite the story. Especially if he can do it in front of some of the same fans that caught his debut at PRIDE Critical Countdown 2004.
Kongo needs this win more than Hunt. While he obviously wouldn't get cut, it would take away all of the momentum he's put together since he crushing defeat against Frank Mir back at UFC 107. This is Kongo's final run, and a loss against a man sporting a 7-7 record would be a setback he will not be able to come back from. Tick tock. That's the sound of your UFC career running out.