MMA Root

‘I’m Here to Erase Him’

Cheick Kongo is just months away from becoming the oldest title contender in Bellator MMA history. The former winner of the Congo Bellator Heavyweight Tournament (31-11-2, 13-3 Bellator) earned a new title fight against division champion Ryan Bader. The pair will meet in Paris, France in a rematch of their Bellator 226 bout that ended in a disappointing no contest after an accidental eye poke from Bader. The 46-year-old Congo asked for a rematch for many months but only got it after submitting Sergei Kharitonov at Bellator 265 and after Bader’s stint in the 205-pound division ended.

Kongo was on the edge of the cage during Bader’s most recent win, a heavyweight title unification bout against Valentin Moldavsky. After the judges crowned Bader the undisputed heavyweight champion, Kongo got a chance to go head-to-head with his opponent in the middle of the cage. The Frenchman had a few words for “Darth,” and they weren’t pleasant.

“I said, ‘Karma is a bitch, I was really impressed with your fight, you did really well, but you better be ready and do the same because I’m going to crush you. I’ll fuck you, I’ll crush you.’ As we were about to leave, I said to him, ‘Just be ready, because I’m about to kill you in France.’”

Ultimate Fighting Championship alum Kongo still believes Bader’s move in their clash was inches from leaving significant repercussions on his vision. He also didn’t appreciate Bader’s relegation to the light heavyweight division, which held the heavyweight title for two years. According to Congo, that was too long.

“The way he poked me almost cost me one of my eyes,” Kongo told Sherdog. “I wasn’t paid to lose my eyes. Are you supposed to be a fighter? Act as a fighter, but not a dirty fighter. Just act like a champion. you are the champion You’re an ethical guy, just act like one of them. He decided to make the crappy move. He knows what he did. Now he was just trying to be like, ‘No, I ended up just poking his nose.’ Technically, the rules said that if you push an opponent into an opening, you’ll be disqualified. That’s one of the rules of MMA. For some reason he was saved. If your crappy train makes you know what it is, you should pay the price. Hey, get back on your way to do it again just to get revenge or clear up the situation. But no, he decided to hide out in the light heavyweight division and secure his position there, but he got kicked out. He got tangled up in the fight with the Russian [Nemkov] who beat him up. Afterwards, he attempted to revive during the tournament but was raped. He has now earned that caveat with the heavyweight title. Thing is, I just want to erase him and make sure the time he was crowned was wrong. He was like a cheater. He does not deserve it.”

Kongo also spoke about the importance of MMA being officially recognized in France, shared his thoughts on headlining the first Bellator event in his home country and more.

Time stamp:

(00:00) Introduction
(01:05) Life in Texas
(02:00) Bellator returns to Paris
(04:34) Headlining the first Bellator show in Paris
(07:23) Fighting in France in the early 2000s
(10:38) His thoughts on the first encounter with Bader
(13:17) Commentary on Bader’s victory over Moldavsky
(2:50) What he told Bader as they faced each other in the Bellator cage
(18:30) Whether there is animosity between them
(25:00) His secret to eternal youth
(27:37) Greetings in English
(28:29) Greetings in French
(29:21) Over

Tudor Leonte began writing about mixed martial arts for Italian media in 2013. His journey with Sherdog began in 2018 and he now covers One Championship and countless European shows. You can follow him on Twitter @Mr. Tudor Leonte.