Steve Cofield from Yahoo! Sports and ESPN Radio in Las Vegas is reporting that last night’s post-UFC 87 press conference at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. was a buzz about the UFC possibly looking to match Brock Lesnar in his next fight vs. Cheick Kongo.
“The word swirling around the media room was that UFC may try to make a Cheick Kongo-Lesnar fight next,” writes Cofield.
Lesnar evened his UFC record to 1-1 following a three-round unanimous decision over Heath Herring in one of the night’s featured attractions. In an undercard match that was moved to the pay-per-view broadcast on a tape-delay basis, Kongo finished UFC newcomer Dan “The Viking” Evensen off via TKO towards the end of round 1.
Kongo and Herring actually fought each other this past March, with Herring winning their UFC 82 matchup via split decision in a fight where both competitors looked impressive. Despite losing to Herring, Kongo would pose an intriguing test for Lesnar. Kongo is still relatively new to MMA and would be vulnerable on the ground. However, he could possibly dominate the standup portion of the fight.
An accomplished kickboxer, Kongo is a more versatile striker than Herring and his leg kicks could create problems for Lesnar. You also have to take into consideration that on some levels, Kongo would be able to match him athletically. Simply put, Lesnar would not have the same physical skill advantage he had last night vs. Herring.
A more sensible matchup for the emerging mega-star might be former UFC heavyweight champion Mark Coleman, Lesnar’s original opponent for UFC 87 before pulling out with an injury.
From a box office standpoint, Lesnar vs. Coleman has a lot of potential. Lesnar resorted to some pro wrestling tactics last night by trying to embrace the role of a “bad guy” with some of his antics aimed at Herring. The 43-year old Coleman, a professional wrestler in Japan, could easily assume the role of “good guy” as a past-his-prime veteran trying to prove himself one last time against the cocky newcomer. A UFC Hall of Famer, Coleman has strong credentials that can earn him credibility with a novice fanbase if he is marketed properly.
However, it remains to be seen whether it’s a fight Coleman is still even interested in. There have been recent rumblings that Coleman might be looking to cut down to light heavyweight for a possible rematch in December against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. However, Rua was just recently quoted on a video appearing on YouTube that his December opponent could instead of former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Regardless, after last night’s effort, does it make sense for the 43-year old Coleman to try and test himself against Lesnar after he’s already proven himself multi-times over? It would appear that Kongo is as good of an option as any as Lesnar’s next opponent.