A heavyweight rematch between Cheick Kongo and Vitaly Minakov took place on the main card of tonight’s Bellator 216 event in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Minakov had previously defeated Kongo via unanimous decision back in 2014.
Cheick Kongo (29-10-2 MMA) entered tonight’s contest on a seven-fight winning streak, his latest being a first-round knockout victory over Timothy Johnson at Bellator 208.
Meanwhile, Vitaly Minakov (21-0 MMA) was last seen in action in December of 2017, where he earned a second round TKO victory over Tony Johnson at Fight Nights Global 82.
Earlier this evening it was announced that the winner of tonight’s Cheick Kongo vs. Vitaly Minakov contest will be the first man to challenge current Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader.
Round one of this Bellator 216 heavyweight fight begins and Minakov lands a big right hand that sends Kongo up against the fence. Vitaly comes in the pressure and Kongo clips him. The fighters clinch up and then break. We are back to striking. Kongo circles and throw a low kick that connects low. Hopefully this won’t turn out like last night’s main event. Thankfully that is not that case as Minakov says he can continue. Vitaly presses forward and gets Kongo in the clinch. They break and Kongo lands a pair of hard low kicks. Another kick from Cheick but this time Vitaly catches it and forces Kongo to the floor. Minakov looks for a choke but Kongo escapes and scrambles back up to his feet. Minakov is winging right hands now but they are completely telegraphed. Kongo circles to his left. The horn sounds to end the opening round.
Round two begins and Cheick lands a heavy low kick that appears to buckle the knee of Minakov. Vitaly circles away. Not much action here and the crowd is growing restless. Kongo and Minakov are showing a lot of respect for one another and it is not leading to a very entertaining contest. The heavyweights continue to stare at each other but neither man wants to engage. Finally Minakov comes forward and lands a right hand. That appears to wake up Kongo who responds with a three-punch combination. Minakov circles out and the horn sounds to end round two.
Round three begins and Cheick Kongo lands a leg kick. He follows that up with another and then another. He feints with a punch and lands another low kick to the lead leg of Vitaly. Minakov attempts to fire back with a left hook that misses. Kongo with another hard low kick but Minakov catches it and takes him down. Vitaly is working from half guard and landing some short strikes from the position. The arena fills with boos. Minakov looks to secure a choke but it is unable to secure the finish. Kongo works his way back up against the fence and looks to wall-walk. He is back up to his feet with only one minute remaining in the fight. Cheick Kongo begins firing off punches on Minakov who appears to be hurt. Big shots from Kongo before the horn sounds to end round three.
Official Bellator 216 Result: Cheick Kongo def. Vitaly Minakov via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)