Cheick Kongo is looking forward to a fresh start with Bellator. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Cheick Kongo is ready to start a new chapter in his career as a member of Bellator’s heavyweight roster.
A longtime member of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Kongo took his career in a different direction earlier this year by signing with Bellator and now finds himself as one of four men vying for a shot at the organization’s heavyweight title in the Season 9 tournament.
“Of course, this is an opportunity. I didn’t get cut by the UFC. I decided to go somewhere else. I talked to [my teammate] Quinton [Jackson] just to know what’s going on [in Bellator], and I made my decision,” Kongo recently told Sherdog. “That motivated me to come in and make a deal. The UFC is a great company, but Bellator is, too.”
Kongo will lock horns with Mark Godbeer tonight in the Bellator 102 main event, which airs live on Spike TV and takes place at the Visalia Convention Center in Visalia, Calif. In Godbeer, the 38-year-old meets a fellow knockout artist who has stopped six of his eight career victims with strikes.
“Nobody can know for sure [how the fight will go], but it’s going to be interesting, for sure,” said Kongo. “He wants to put me on his wall and say he’s the guy who defeated Cheick Kongo, so I won’t let him get that victory on his wall. I’m ready for him. I know he trained his striking and ground game, but so have I. I can’t wait.”
A 12-year-pro, Kongo said that he is also approaching Bellator’s tournament concept with confidence. Provided he can navigate past Godbeer, the Frenchman believes his considerable experience has prepared him well for what lies ahead.
“Before [I joined the] UFC, when I was doing my first MMA fights, I was in tournaments. I feel very confident about that, and I know I can make it,” said Kongo. “People are saying it’s always the end when you leave the UFC, but it’s not. For me, it’s not over. I’m going to keep going in my life. It’s something new and fresh, and I have to try, and that’s a really good thing.”