MMAFrenzy continues our main card coverage of UFC 144 with a pair of breakdowns of Saturday’s card. Each day we will breakdown a pair of fights leading up to our breakdown of the UFC lightweight title fight between Ben Henderson and champion Frankie Edgar.
Today we take a look at a pair of fights with Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo and Ryan Bader taking on Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
MMAFrenzy’s coverage of UFC 144 will begin with the Facebook and FX broadcast preliminary fights at 7:30 PM EST on Saturday evening. Stay tuned to MMAFrenzy for complete coverage of UFC 144.
Keys for Mark Hunt (Chris Leslie):
Mark Hunt is quite frankly at a massive disadvantage in his fight with Kongo. The kickboxer is now facing another kickboxer but Kongo is not afraid to get the fight to the ground if need be. Out-gunned, under-sized, and with nothing left to lose, means that Hunt can actually be more dangerous that normal.
Keys for Cheick Kongo (Bryan Robison):
With the matchup with Hunt, a fight that plays out similarly to Kongo’s most recent fight, against Matt Mitrione, could be expected. Yes, Kongo has excellent kickboxing. But so does Hunt. What Hunt does not have, which has been a weakness in the past, is serviceable takedown defense.
In his first UFC fight, against Sean McCorkle, Hunt was taken down at will and finished with a straight armbar in just over a minute.
For Kongo, who is undefeated since losing to Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir in consecutive fights, he showed a much more versatile gameplan in his fight against Mitrione. And while he has the power to knock anyone out in the heavyweight division, Mark Hunt is not human. He took a head kick from Mirko Cro Cop and just stared at him afterwards, wondering why Cro Cop would do such a thing. So it seems that taking the fight to the ground and wearing Hunt down is Kongo’s best chance to earn the victory.
Keys for Ryan Bader (CL):
It is very, very simple for Bader when he faces Rampage on Saturday. Chin down, hands up, set up your shots with combos and take Rampage down before he can counter. If he does that, then Bader can be victorious. If he doesn’t, well then he will likely end up counting the lights on the ceiling or he will be ole’d around the octagon like a bull in a bullfight.
Keys for “Rampage” Jackson (BR):
Finally “Rampage” Jackson returns to his second home- Japan. It will be nearly six years to the day since his last fight in Saitama Super Arena. While he won’t have 50,000+ on his side, he will still have a significant crowd on his side.
It is unlikely we will see the “Rampage” of old, one who comes forward aggressively and slams his opponents. He has been much more methodical over the last three years, with it being over three years since his last knockout, against his rival Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92 in December 2008. He has become more of a counter boxer than the aggressor, which will come in handy against Bader.
Bader likes to move forward and put pressure on his opponent and eventually take him to the ground. Jackson can use that to his advantage, much like Tito Ortiz did against Bader, and when Bader comes in for a high takedown or even a double leg, counter against that with his premier knockout power.