Cheick Kongo will fight outside the UFC next month for the first time since 2006. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Longtime UFC veteran Cheick Kongo will make his Bellator debut against Mark Godbeer on Oct. 4 as part of the promotion’s Season 9 heavyweight tournament.
The other half of the big-man bracket pits former UFC and Strikeforce talent Lavar Johnson against Vinicius Kappke de Queiroz. The pairings were announced by Bellator officials on Monday.
Bellator 102 takes place at the Visalia Convention Center in Visalia, Calif., and also features a bantamweight final matchup between Rafael Silva and Anthony Leone. A pair of middleweight tournament semifinals completes the main card, as Brennan Ward battles Joe Pacheco, while Mikkel Parlo squares off with Jason Butcher.
Kongo, 38, compiled an 11-6-1 record while competing in the Octagon. The Frenchman made his debut with the Las Vegas-based promotion in July 2006 with a triumph over Gilbert Aldana and went on to earn notable victories over the likes of Mirko Filipovic, Paul Buentello, Pat Barry and Matt Mitrione during his tenure. Kong’s last UFC appearance came at UFC 159, where he suffered a first-round knockout loss to Roy Nelson.
A 29-year-old member of the Trojan Freefighters camp, Godbeer has been victorious in eight of his nine professional outings, falling only to Anthony Taylor at Supremacy Fight Challenge 4 in November 2011. The Englishman has earned all eight of his wins by knockout or submission.
Johnson was cut by the UFC after a unanimous decision loss to Brendan Schaub in February when he was flagged for an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio in a post-fight drug screen by the California State Athletic Commission. “Big” was 2-2 in the Octagon, picking up wins over Joey Beltran and Pat Barry while losing to Schaub and Stefan Struve.
Queiroz, better known as Vinicius “Spartan,” split a pair of Bellator appearances last fall, submitting Mark Holata with a first-round armbar before suffering a first-round TKO defeat at the hands of Alexander Volkov. The 30-year-old Brazilian tapped to a third-round choke against Rob Broughton in his lone Octagon appearance at UFC 120.