Cheick Kongo, the only true French MMA legend, will attempt to write one of the most beautiful chapters of his career by challenging Ryan Bader on Friday night in Paris (live from 9pm on RMC Sport 2) for the Bellator Heavyweight belt. At the age of forty-six, a French fighter who is still a professional can become a hero in front of his family, in a country whose discipline has long been outlawed.
What if he stops there? With his highly anticipated fight against Ryan Bader for the Bellator heavyweight title approaching at Percy, Cheick Kongo faced many questions about his future. At 46, with a professional career that began in June 2001 (31-11 in career), the only legend in French MMA – no doubt there will be others in the future but he just deserves that stature at the moment – not necessarily too far from the end of the road. . We even found ourselves imagining him winning the belt in front of Badr before we put the gloves in the middle of the cage in the Parisian case to bend over.
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“He’ll be the one to decide, but it would be a great way to finish his career,” Bellator Chairman Scott Cocker said. “It’s possible,” replied the person on the RMC Fighter Club podcast. Before qualifying in the last few days: “That possibility is very remote. Maybe but … you have to be smart enough not to fight the fight too much. But who knows when that will happen? I might do once or two again or not all. But in time Currently, that’s not the idea I had at all. Would I want to get the belt if I won? I’ve already cleaned up the category. It would just add the finishing touch to the cake. So technically, no. But we don’t know. It’s just an idea abstract”.
In his words, we feel that the old sage, highly respected by those who followed him in his wake, is questioning himself. Logic. There would be beauty in leaving like this. If he wins the Bellator Heavyweight title, Kongo will set a fine history for French MMA that he helped shape its beginnings: he would become the first sacred tricolor actor in one of the two major organizations (with the UFC) of discipline but also the oldest new champion in the history of these two major organizations! “It’s an opportunity to set the record straight and make an impression, to tell the audience: Come on guys, we can do it,” declared Congo “It is not there to be beaten” but “to win as it should”.
All in front of his family, not far from his native Sifran where he promised to return the belt if he wins, in his country where his sport has long been banned. “For French mixed martial arts fans, it will be special if they can finally experience this kind of event and not need to watch it on TV, smiles. They will be able to participate which is great.” Victory or defeat, Kongo promised to “make a fire”. We can take his word for it. Especially since there is a frustration that must be erased.
We will settle our accounts.
His first title fight against Badr, in September 2019, was a second chance for the Bellator heavyweight belt after his decision to lose to Russian Vitaly Minakov in April 2014, ended in controversy: Congo, who dominated at the start of the fight, was hit by one blow. The finger in the left eye is officially “accidental” which prompted the Doctor to stop the fight in the first round for a period of no contest (No resolution). Since then, the two heroes have bypassed responsibility. The Frenchman claims that the object was intentional (also with a finger in the nose, visible in the photo) because his opponent felt the shocker would turn on him.
The American, who remembers that he never saw any photo that proves his finger in the eye, claims that it was a heavy blow to the opponent. Congo also complains that he did not get a chance to explain the situation while Bader was able to justify himself in a press conference. In short, there is a discussion that must conclude. “We will settle our accounts,” Kongo says with appetite. And wanting to start the fight better than he did in 2019: “It’s going to explode in a nutshell. In the beginning, she was really into diesel, testing, getting into juice. But he’s someone who shouldn’t be allowed to impose himself and take his marks in.. and we have to stop him from the start. We do the work and stifle it.
Congo will fight for him, for his legend, for his legacy, as well as for the assembled audience at Percy to pay him. As always, he will also fight for a more universal goal in a country where the rejection of the Other has gained prominence in recent years. “On top of all that, it really brings respect to Africans, North Africans, blacks, Launched at a press conference. We are there, we are part of France, and we are recognized all over the world as French and it is a point of honor because when we look at Africa today, it is a disdain, a distortion and so on. And to complete our microphone: ‘It’s a real spearhead for me, and it’s values I’m attached to and I want to defend.’
This is part of what makes Kongo work. For the rest, finding the origin of the eternal side of a fighter exiled for many years in the United States takes us deep into his daily life as a great professional. The one in which he continues to put himself through several hours of training a day to stay in tip-top shape. Often, to explain his longevity, he also refers to the fact that he never consumed doping products to prepare himself, unlike many fighters of his generation. We also feel that the theme, which he says “always pregnant” in MMA, is working on. “The biggest danger in Badr? Technically, if I have to be honest, it is… the illicit products, Lets us go with a wave of laughter. But I don’t care. And whether he takes it or not, he will eat twice as much.”
And to philosophize on the question: “Things will work out when people understand that in the long run, it spoils lives. They are happy, they make money and all that goes with it, but if it comes to living in a wheelchair or walking with canes in my early forties, no …and there’s a lot of that. Getting away from all of these things has helped me.” When asked about his top five MMA heavyweight history or his dream fight that never happened, the answers come as a reminder of his special status as a legend in the discipline.
“A dream fight? Maybe against myself, even if I already do it every day in training. (…) My top 5? It’s up to you. But none of them make me ashamed.” The story of the French fighter, who has had nine victories in his last 11 fights but only one in his last three matches, will continue to be written in Bercy. Where Cheick Kongo can afford is the most beautiful chapter of his personal book, so he deserved everything he did. If he succeeds and stops there, no one can blame him. We just have to say thank you for everything.