When Bellator signed former UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo, they were hoping that he would be able to inject some life into a heavyweight division that badly needed it. Kongo won the promotion’s heavyweight tournament by recording a unanimous decision victory over Peter Graham at Bellator 107 in the final.
The big Frenchman was tentative to begin the opening round, but seemed to get the better of the action with some strikes and kicks. In the middle frame, Kongo started to take control of the bout with his solid clinch work as Graham began to noticeably fade. He landed a couple of solid right hands and had Graham dealing with a cut over his left eye.
In the final round, Kongo utilized some takedown work and had Graham bleeding profusely after landing a solid elbow during some active ground and pound. “The Chief” showed some heart by getting to his feet and landing a couple of punches in his own right, but Kongo would close things with another takedown in the final minute and landed some hard strikes to Graham’s ribs from dominant top position. All three judges scored the fight 30-27 for Kongo.
It was the second-consecutive victory for Kongo who made an impressive debut in Bellator by stopping Mark Godbeer in the second round of their semi-final. Graham had been a late injury replacement for Vinicius “Spartan” Queiroz. The latter had impressed in the other semi-final by knocking out UFC castoff Lavar “Big” Johnson in just 23 seconds. Unfortunately, he sustained a knee injury, so Graham got the call after recording a victory over Eric Prindle in his Bellator debut.
Kongo earned a Bellator heavyweight title shot thanks to the 20th victory of his career. No doubt he will be a very interested observer at Bellator 108 as heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov defends his title against undefeated challenger Vitaly Minakov. Both men are 3-0 in the Bellator cage, and both have a penchant for finishing fights. The towering 6-foot-7 Volkov is 19-3 in his career with 14 knockouts to his credit. Minakov is 12-0, with 11 finishes by way of knockout or submission.
Whoever emerges with the victory and the belt after that fight will then have to prepare for the most formidable challenge of their career against Kongo. So far, Kongo has given Bellator what they had been hoping for.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.