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UFC 97: Cheick Kongo-Antoni Hardonk

Cheick Kongo vs. Antoni Hardonk
13-4-1 Record 8-4
No. 10 heavyweight
Rank No. 35 heavyweight
8-1 (T)KO Record 6-0
2-0 Sub. Record 2-1
3-3-1 Dec. Record 0-3
W-2 Streak W-3
233 Weight 246
6-4 Height 6-4
33 Age 32
Wolfslair Camp Vos Gym
Paris, France
Hometown Weesp, The Netherlands

Cheick Kongo will take on Antoni Hardonk Saturday night at UFC 97 in a battle that could go a long way toward establishing the winner as a future heavyweight title contender. The full preview is below.

What's at stake for Kongo: As I said on the FanHouse MMA podcast, I think that if Kongo wins this fight, he could be just one win away from a shot at the winner of the UFC 100 heavyweight title fight between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir. My podcast guest, Ariel Helwani of, disagreed with me on that front, but there's no question that Kongo is climbing the heavyweight ladder and will have big things ahead of him if he keeps winning.

What's at stake for Hardonk: He's been overlooked a bit by UFC fans, but Hardonk is on a three-fight winning streak and has used his great kickboxing skill to finish all three opponents. He's not in line for a title shot any time soon, but if he beats Kongo he can't be overlooked any longer.

Why Kongo is favored: He's stronger and has more experience in big fights against high-quality opponents.

Why Hardonk could pull the upset: The way Hardonk employs leg kicks from the outside makes him dangerous for any opponent, and Kongo might not be nimble enough to avoid those kicks.

Kongo Links:
Official site | UFC profile | Sherdog record | Wikipedia entry

Hardonk Links:
Official site | UFC profile | Sherdog record | Wikipedia entry

Prediction: Kongo takes Hardonk down and TKOs him in the third round.