Cheick Kongo has long been one of MMA’s most talented heavyweights, but for one reason or another, he has never quite lived up to expectations.
The towering Frenchman isn’t getting any younger, and he knows that time isn’t on his side, though he continues to solider on in his never-ending quest to capture a world title.
Kongo, a longtime UFC veteran, is slated to face Vinicius Kappke de Queiroz this Friday in one of the featured bouts of Bellator 150. The two were penciled in to lock horns in November 2013, but after that bout was postponed a week, de Queiroz suffered a knee injury and had to withdraw.
Kongo is eager to finally get his hands on “Spartan” and said it’s been a long time coming for them to finally trade blows. Though Kongo admits he’s not an expert on everything de Quieroz does and doesn’t do well, the Parisian knows enough to believe he’ll have his hand raised in victory.
“I’ve been trying to fight him since 2013,” Kongo told Sherdog.com recently. “He’s a tough guy and he’s very good, so we’ll see who is the best.
“He moves around very well and he’s fast,” he added. “He’s got a great right hand, too. I see him looking to keep a distance so he can strike with me, and if that doesn’t work, I can see him trying to take me down and try the mount game. But you never know because everything can change in a fight, so I have to be ready. I can’t wait.”
Kongo said he’s prepared for every possible action from the Team Nogueira fighter and admitted that he feels as though he needs to win. Though the 6-foot-4 40-year-old feels great both mentally and physically, he understands that a setback to a fighter who isn’t well-known could be the death knell to a career that started almost 15 years ago.
Kongo said this because he is at an age where most fighters have already retired, a win is more critical than ever. But, he said, he doesn’t feel like an old veteran. In fact, he feels as though he’s in his 20s because of how well he’s taken care of his body.
“I have a really good feeling about me,” he stated. “I don’t feel old and my training has gone great. But you never know about the promotion you fight for because one day they could think I’m old and that they don’t need me. If they do that, then I guess it’s time for me to retire. If that happens, then that means I haven’t put on a good show.”
Kongo is quick to laugh off that notion because he is determined to not only put on a great show, but also dispatch de Queiroz in spectacular fashion. When he does that, Kongo said, Bellator will have no choice but to look deeply at what he’s done and put him in line for a crack at the promotion’s title.
He was never able to capture gold inside the UFC’s Octagon, but with Bellator, Kongo says he feels as though he’s been given a second chance. He feels resurrected, and if his performance on Friday is anything like his attitude going into the battle, de Queiroz could be in for a long fight.