What's Next for Cheick Kongo?

Nick MurphyContributor IApril 19, 2009

With last night's seemingly easy destruction of Antoni Hardonk, Cheick Kongo may have earned the title shot he's been dreaming about.

Kongo looked a little nervous at first and seemed reluctant to engage in a stand up battle against Hardonk, but after testing the waters and throwing a few solid shots, he looked as comfortable and composed as an eagle in flight.

From then on out, it seemed to be a one-sided battle, with Cheick winning both the stand up and the ground action. His overall strength worked to his advantage as he held Hardonk to the ground and unleashed a furry of short but effective hammer fists to the face that left Antoni bloody and dazed.

It didn't take much after that for Kongo to claim victory and have his arm raised in the octagon, winning by TKO for the third consecutive time. Not bad for someone who reportedly broke his hand in the first round.

The win takes Kongo's MMA record to 14-4-1, but more importantly it should earn him a title shot against the winner of the eagerly anticipated rematch of Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, scheduled for July 11, 2009.

In an after-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White was asked about his thoughts on the Kongo fight and what the future might hold for the 34-year-old French fighter.

"He's a serious contender for the heavyweight belt and is definitely in the mix for a future title shot."

I couldn't agree more.

So what does this mean in the long run for Cheick? Well, as far as future fights go, it could mean one of two things: He will fight the winner of the Brock vs. Mir rematch for the title, or he will be set up against new rising star heavyweight Shane Carwin, with the winner earning a shot at the title.

But after going 7-2 in the UFC, with both losses coming via a decision and the last three fights not making it past the second round, Cheick Kongo deserves that title shot.

Who knows, he may just have the strength and intelligence to pick apart and dismantle the mammoth beast that is Brock Lesnar.