Commentary

Kongo closes in on title shot

Originally Published: October 7, 2013
By Josh Gross | ESPN.com

One more win and Cheick Kongo will fight for the Bellator MMA heavyweight title.

Considering Kongo never sniffed a UFC belt and was, fair to say, a middle of the pack fighter in the Octagon, the 38-year-old Frenchman's quick rise, should he beat Vinicius Queiroz next month, likely won't reflect well on Bellator's heavyweight status.

As it stands now, many fans don't take the division seriously. Why should they, really? Without looking it up, can you name Bellator's current heavyweight titleholder? A clue: He's Russian.

The answer: 24-year-old Alexander Volkov (19-3), who at 6-foot-7 is a bit of a beanpole. Volkov became champ by defeating Richard Hale for the vacant belt last December. He's defending for the first time on Nov. 22 against 12-0 Vitaly Minakov, who at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds carries the frame of a more traditional big man. Volkov brings a 10-fight winning streak into the cage, though no one can claim he scored a signature win yet.

The reason it's worth going through all this, at least for our purposes, is to reiterate that Kongo is a fight away from challenging for the Bellator heavyweight title. Either him or Queiroz, who is well aware of what it feels like to lose.

Do you care? I don't.

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