by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
At just 5-0 in his professional mixed martial arts career, some might question whether Cain Velasquez is really ready to contend for a shot at the UFC heavyweight championship. But then again, current champion Brock Lesnar is only 3-1 himself.
That’s likely just where Velasquez finds himself, though, in his UFC 99 bout on Saturday against Cheick Kongo… thanks to an injury to original opponent Heath Herring. The Texas Krazy Horse has struggled since joining the UFC, while Kongo has to be regarded as one of the top contenders to the championship, on a three-fight winning streak and having a 7-2 record in the UFC.
A bout between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Randy Couture at UFC 102 could also make a case for the next contender, but it wouldn’t be a stretch for the winner of Velasquez and Kongo, either.
Velasquez realizes the implications of facing Kongo in Germany. “It’s an awesome opportunity to fight Cheick Kongo. I think he’s one of the guys up there in line for a title shot. To fight him, the UFC obviously thinks I’m ready.”
He also doesn’t waste time postulating on things that are out of his control. “I always take it one fight at a time. Climbing up the ladder, that’s my main goal. Whatever the UFC wants to do after this, whatever they have in mind right now, that’s up to them,” he said on a recent edition of MMAWeekly Radio.
Against Kongo, who has 19 professional bouts to his credit, Velasquez also knows that just because he has been burning his way through the competition doesn’t mean that the Frenchman will be an easy target. He has respect for Kongo, knowing there’s a lot to watch out for.
“Kongo’s grappling has gotten better, his long reach. He’s a powerful guy, likes a lot of leg kicks,” Velasquez assessed.
But having never lost in five attempts, things are working for him too, and Velasquez has no intention of changing up his aggressive style at this juncture.
“With me, I want to be in control of the fight the whole time. I don’t want him to be comfortable in the fight…. keep putting the pressure on him. That’s what I’m planning on doing,” he revealed.
“That’s my style of fighting. Until we come across somebody that can counteract that then we’ll change up the gameplan, but as far as we know now, that’s my style of fighting and I’m gonna keep fighting that way.”
If his way of fighting pays off again on Saturday night, Velasquez may no longer be looking over someone else’s shoulder for a glance at the next title shot. Depending on how the next couple months of heavyweight bouts play out, a title shot might end up staring him smack in the face.