I mentioned earlier that if you watched the countdown show for UFC 99, you would think that Cain Velasquez was the next coming of Fedor Emelianenko or something. This is a tough fight for him, but in actuality the difficulty level is going to be determined by Cain Velasquez himself. He hasn't really fought a guy with the striking prowess that Cheick Kongo possesses. He's shown the propensity to stand up and bang in his last couple of fights. He may have just wanted to exhibit his own striking skills against lesser opponents, but that wouldn't be advised in this match up.
On the flipside of that, Velasquez's biggest strength is Kongo's biggest weakness and it would be foolish not to exploit that. He should just use that great wrestling ability he has to put Kongo on his back and pound him out. I know folk rant and rave about Velasquez's ability to do inhuman things in the gym. Why risk standing with Kongo and getting caught with a big punch, knee and/or kick? Velasquez's game plan should hearken back to the old days of MMA. Which was wrestlers taking strikers down and pounding them out. Kongo has improved his wrestling quite a bit, but he'll eventually give up the take down if Velasquez is persistent. That's the easiest path to victory for Velasquez.
Cheick Kongo on the other hand should use that reach advantage he'll have to the maximum. If he can stop a couple of take down attempts from Velasquez and land a couple of strikes, that could be all it takes to get him going. His key to victory revolves around keeping his distance and stopping the takedown while getting off offensively. Kongo has a tendency to hesitate at times with pulling the trigger. My baseball coach always told me, "he who hesitates is lost". You definitely don't want to be lost in the octagon with Velasquez.
All in all, I see Velasquez getting the takedown if he's smart and pounding Kongo out. However, if he doesn't fight smart, he might find himself walking towards the light like Carol Ann in Poltergeist. This fight answers a bunch of questions. Can Kongo deal with an elite wrestler? Can Velasquez deal with a striker with size? We'll find out on Saturday. Who you putting your money on?