February 19, 2019

Bellator 216: Bellator Should Consider Bumping Kongo In Favor of Cro Cop As Bader's Next Opponent

By Adam Martin

On Saturday night, Cheick Kongo pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year so far when he defeated Vitaly Minakov via decision on the main card of Bellator 216. Kongo was a +435 underdog in the matchup after losing a lopsided decision to Minakov the first time they met in 2014, but he proved the oddsmakers wrong by grinding out an ugly decision over Minakov in the rematch.

The winner of the fight was promised a title shot against new Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader. Most expected Minakov to be that man, but Kongo surprised many and is now the next man in line. With eight wins in a row now, Kongo has a good argument to be the next man in line for a title shot, and Scott Coker has promised it to him. However, the fight with Minakov was so bad that Bellator should at least consider bumping Kongo for Mirko Cro Cop.

Yeah, Cro Cop's decision win over Roy Nelson wasn't much more eventful than the Kongo vs. Minakov fight, but at least Cro Cop showed he can make the fight exciting with his striking. Kongo, though coming off of back-to-back knockouts in his previous two fights, is more of a grinder and wrestler type. Against Bader, there's no chance Kongo is going to outwrestle him, but Cro Cop at least has the striking threat to make that fight interesting. Considering Cro Cop has eight wins in a row himself, there's a compelling argument for bumping Kongo out of the title queue due to a bad performance and pushing Cro Cop into his spot instead.


However, Coker did say that Bellator is considering a rematch between Cro Cop and Fedor Emelianenko, who Bader just vanquished to win the title. Perhaps Bellator could book Bader vs. Kongo and Cro Cop vs. Emelianenko on the same card or something. But we don't even know if Emelianenko wants to fight again, which would leave Cro Cop without a next logical opponent. Therefore, if I was a promoter I would bump Cro Cop ahead of Kongo for the next title shot, because Bader vs. Cro Cop is more marketable than a Kongo fight, which let's be honest, has no one excited.

With the stinker that was Kongo vs. Minakov, plus a No Contest between Matt Mitrione and Sergei Kharitonov at Bellator 215, Bellator didn't have a great weekend for heavyweight MMA. We thought everything would be set up nicely for the heavyweight division going forward, but things appear to be a bit muddled now because the fights didn't play out as expected. Kongo vs. Bader appears to be the next fight in line, but we shouldn't write off Cro Cop as a potential replacement.

Bellator 216
Cheick Kongo vs. Vitaly Minakov 2: Cheick Kongo def. Vitaly Minakov via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

Bellator 216
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson: Mirko Cro Cop def. Roy Nelson via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

Bellator 216: MVP vs. Daley (formerly Bellator 217: MVP vs. Daley) takes place February 16, 2019 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Click HERE for more Bellator 216 Post-Fight Analysis


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