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UFC 107:

Previewing UFC 107: Frank Mir vs. Cheick Kongo

Kongo has heard enough, ready to silence Mir on Saturday

Image

Courtesy of UFC

Cheick Kongo (right) delivers a straight right hand to Antoni Hardonk during their heavyweight fight on April 18, 200 in this file photo.

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Six of the biggest names on the card for UFC 107 share insight and strategy on their opponents for Saturday's fight in Memphis.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Although Frank Mir has shown no hesitancy in insulting Cheick Kongo’s skills as a fighter in the weeks leading up to their heavyweight fight at UFC 107 on Saturday, he said he wouldn’t start a war of words to Kongo’s face Thursday because of his French opponent’s limited English vocabulary.

“I don’t think it’s fair to exchange words with Cheick Kongo up here,” Mir said from the podium at the UFC 107 pre-fight press conference. ”Obviously, with the language barrier, it’s unfair. Saturday night, in the Octagon, I think will be a much more equal playing ground for both of us.”

But as it turned out, Kongo found more than enough words during his time at the microphone to express what he’s thought of Mir’s recent comments on his fighting ability.

“I try to like many fighters, but I can’t accept that someone can judge me,” Kongo said. “I make some mistakes and he says, ‘He’s not good; he’s nothing.’"

“He was a former UFC heavyweight champion. He did a good job and I respect that. But I can’t let anyone judge me or treat me like a piece of (expletive), and he did.”

In most interviews and during the UFC Countdown show to Saturday’s event, Mir (12-4) has been open with his belief that Kongo has "the worst ground game in the UFC."

Mir’s criticisms come mostly as the result of what he saw from Kongo during his loss to Cain Velasquez in June, when Kongo (24-5-1) struggled terribly with Velasquez’s wrestling ability.

According to Kongo, part of the problem in June was that he had a limited amount of time to prepare for the fight after replacing an injured Heath Herring.

“When I took that fight, I was exhausted,” Kongo said. “There was not enough time to prepare for the fight. I just took the fight because I was too proud. My partners told me to be careful and that I could cancel the fight, but I said, ‘No. That’s fine.’”

Whether the limited amount of preparation was the main reason for Kongo’s suspect ground game or not, Mir has jumped on him for not focusing on the weak parts of his game this late in his career.

Considering Kongo’s words at Thursday’s press conference, Mir’s comments have not gone unnoticed and the plan is to shut him up Saturday.

“I don’t know,” Kongo said when asked if Mir was looking past him in this fight. “I hope not, because you never know what’s going to happen in a fight. I’m a big deal.”

Quick Hits:

Mir’s comments on Kongo’s lack of ground game, while possibly over the top, may turn out to be accurate in Saturday’s fight.

UFC President Dana White calls Mir the best grappler in the division, and he’s scored the most submission wins by any heavyweight fighter in UFC history.

Mir said he expects Kongo to do everything he can to keep his back off the mat, but eventually that’s where he’s going.

“It’s a mixed martial arts fight. Eventually we’re going to the ground,” Mir said. “He has a very erect stance. He’s light on his feet, which helps him throw kicks quickly. The only problem with that is that it makes him easier to take down.”

If Kongo can keep the fight standing, the advantage should swing his way as White calls him the best striker fighting in the heavyweight division.

Kongo is in for quite a challenge staying on his feet against Mir, however, as the former champ has added 20 pounds of bulk to his frame since his last fight in July.

Last Time Out:

Mir: Second-round loss by TKO to Brock Lesnar at UFC 100.

Kongo: Unanimous decision loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 99.

The Lines: Mir: minus-200; Kongo: plus-170

Final Words:

Mir: “I’m a confident individual. I think if it was a pure kickboxing match, I can beat Cheick Kongo. If it was a pure wrestling match, I can beat Cheick Kongo. If it was a pure Jiu-Jitsu match, I can beat Cheick Kongo.”

Kongo: “I don’t think he’ll get the opportunity to put me down. I think he’ll like to stand up just to try and be confident. Even if we go to the ground, we’ll see.”

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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