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Mitrione to Face Toughest Test In Kongo

By CagePotato Guest Contributor Mike Schmitz

For over a year and a half, Matt Mitrione has been all smiles.

After debuting against Marcus Jones at the Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale on December 5, 2009, he has racked up five wins – with four knockouts – while becoming a fan-favorite along the way. Despite the football mileage on his 32-year-old once injury-riddled body, Meathead is on the rise in the world of mixed martial arts. Mitrione will finally face his first big test at UFC 137 where he’ll take on 6-foot-4, 230-pound juggernaut Cheick Kongo.

Like Meathead, Kongo is coming off of a knockout victory at UFC on Versus 4 where he pulled off one of the most stunning comebacks in UFC history by knocking out Mitrione’s training partner Pat Barry. Although both fighters won their last respective bouts and will be riding the momentum into their match-up, Mitrione isn’t nearly as experienced or tested as Kongo, which could play a factor.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that Kongo was a bit of a reach for Mitrione’s next fight and that “Meathead” would be better off facing a Dave Herman-level fighter.
But now that Dana White announced the Kongo-Mitrione bout, it’s time for Matt to prove he’s ready for the next level of competition. This is the fight that could catapult him into the upper echelon of heavyweight fighters.

If Meathead comes up empty handed against Kongo, however, his 5-0 start will be seen as meaningless and he’ll be called overhyped. His success will be attributed to a weak schedule and he’ll be thought of as an unpolished fighter with a long way to go before contention.

But if Mitrione defeats Kongo, he’ll skyrocket up the MMA heavyweight power rankings, while avenging his teammate’s loss along the way.

So the question is, when these two finally meet in the Octagon, how will this fight shape up?

Although fundamentally they’re both from completely different backgrounds, Mitrione and Kongo’s skill sets are nearly identical in a lot of ways. With that said, Mitrione’s weaknesses– takedown defense and ground game – may not leave him exposed in this fight as Kongo suffers from inexperience on the ground as well.

Before Kongo and Frank Mir faced off at UFC 107, Mir called the Frenchman out for his non-existent ground game, and proved it by making Kongo tap just 72 seconds into the fight. So although Kongo is a step up in competition for Mitrione, his supposed holes shouldn’t be tested due to Kongo’s similarly limited skill set.

This fight should be a slugfest. Both fighters have extremely heavy hands and Kongo has only been knocked out once in 24 fights. Some could argue he was basically knocked out against Barry, but he bounced back to win the fight by KO nonetheless.
It will basically be a clash of strength versus strength and power versus power. Whoever has the heavier hands, the stronger chin and the faster strikes will prevail.
With all of that said, I’d put my money on Mitrione.

Sure the competition he’s faced is questionable and he’s not nearly as seasoned as Kongo, but has Kongo really been lights out as of late?

Less than two years ago he was riding a two-fight skid – losses to Cain Velasquez and Mir – into a bout against Paul Buentello. He was flirting with irrelevance and snuck by Buentello before his fight with Travis Browne ended in a draw seven months later.

Sure Kongo is on the positive end of one of the more memorable comebacks in UFC history after knocking out Barry, but “HD” outfought him for all but 20 seconds of the fight. Had that one punch not connected, Kongo could very well be 1-3-1 in his last five fights.

Mitrione, on the other hand, has been victorious in convincing fashion. He made easy work of Christian Morecraft in a fight he described as one of the worst of his career. Mitrione also has the benefit of having Barry in his ear telling him exactly how to fight the Frenchman.

So although their history would suggest that Kongo has the advantage, Mitrione could very well have his hand raised on Oct 29. Regardless of who ends up on top, we’ll know exactly where Mitrione stands after UFC 137.

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Cagepotato Comments

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XENOPHON- July 20, 2011 at 10:27 pm
@Fedor Penn - 100% agreement. King Kongo with the "V."
Todd M- July 19, 2011 at 9:18 pm
I can't wait for this card, I'm coming from Australia to watch UFC 137 and 138. I'm liking Mitrione in this one if he can keep it standing, I think he's more mobile where Kongo is kind of stiff. Meathead could be in trouble if Kongo takes him down, Cheicks got nasty ground n pound, BTW any other Ozzy's going to this one?
k-onda- July 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm
I don't think the down-side is so steep as you portray it here, everyone knows meathead is unpolished, what we don't know is exactly how talented he could be. a win over cup-check would be huge for him, but a loss wouldn't be like putting him in some kind of permanent purgatory. I do agree that this may be too much of a jump in competition level for him, but I think that's good. why people think you should get to the most important point of your career without suffering any losses at all doesn't make any sense to me. well-timed losses have given some of the best fighters out there just what they needed to find success at the top.
Mike Schmitz- July 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm
@MoonBelly: Kongo has developed into more of a GnP guy over the years. He's still average at best IMO.
MoonBelly- July 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm
I think you all are over looking Kongo's wrestling. He has some real decent GnP. He hasn't shown much BJJ (off or def), but you don't want him on top of you - that's for sure.
HEY- July 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm
Mir made Kongo take a nap, not tap. Just sayin'.
Mike Schmitz- July 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm
@Fried Taco: You get a free TapouT shirt if you sign up for an annual subscription.
Dizzylittlelord- July 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm
Actually mitriones ground game is underrated, i think he could look to set up the takedown with strikes and go for the sub, hes a smart fighter i think he'll do great
Anhonestmoose- July 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm
The only reason that loss against Mir is a sub and not a KO is that Mir decided to go for the sub rather than the gnp. Kongo was all but done after that one punch, just sayin.
texican666- July 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm
Can't wait for the UFC trainer for the XBOX. I'm gonna tell all the ladies I train for the UFC! MY pussy levels gonna go kapow!
Get Off Me- July 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm
It's is complete stupidity to write off a fighter like Mitrione if he loses against Kongo, contrary to the garbage above, Mitrione can gain a ton of respect by putting on an entertaining fight against a respectable HW fighter like Kongo. It's funny that we hear how close Kongo came to defeat against Barry yet the fact that he almost KO'd Cain is completely absent. Browne showed that he's no joke and the draw was a result of point deductions on Kongo, Mir is a top HW and Cain is the Champ, Mitrione losing to Cheick stops a winning streak but hardly puts his 5-0 record into meaningless status.
I like the idea of Mitrione winning the fight, but my money will be on Kongo.
El Guapo- July 19, 2011 at 12:11 pm
If Mitrione walks out to some Ben Chaos, he's got a chance.
Nut Puncher 9000- July 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm
Everyone seems too eager to put stock into Mitrione. I like him, I do, but we have yet to see him display definite skills that will give him the advantage against Kongo. If he is smart, which I think he is, this fight will be nothing more than a test of his takedown ability. Now if he can be successful in his takedowns against Kongo, he has a chance. If it turns out to be simply a striking match on the feet...Meathead might find himself tenderized. Did anyone see an elite striker in Mitrione against Morecraft? Yeah he got the job done but it certainly was not in a manner that made me think he deserves to be considered a top level striker. In fact, I think Rogan was even making comments about how his hands were down etc...
Fried Taco- July 19, 2011 at 11:57 am
I'm rooting for Meathead to take this, but I'm thinking Cupcheick will win. I can't wait to virtually train UFC and become a badass fighter. Do we get a free TapouT shirt for registering?
Fedor Penn- July 19, 2011 at 11:56 am
I think Kongo takes this. Mitrione is another over hyped TUF fighter in my opinion.