Cheick Kongo returned to the cage at Bellator 199, and made a big statement with a swift knockout of Javy Ayala.
At long last, the Cheick Kongo fans always dreamed of showed up in the cage. At Bellator 199, the grappling, grinding Kongo of recent years was gone. It may be that opponent Javy Ayala played into his hands, but in a short but entertaining bout, Kongo landed exactly the kind of crushing knockout fans love. The win marked his sixth straight in the promotion, and first finish in that span.
With that sort of performance, it would seem a title fight might be on the horizon. Kongo (28-10-2), for one, isn’t entirely sure, but is certainly open to it. “For sure, that’s something very exciting,” he said following Bellator 199 on Saturday to the assembled media. “But at the [same] time, I will see what the future [brings], and what’s available to me.” When the subject of a title shot having been secured came up again later, Kongo astutely pointed out that “in life you never know anything is secure.”
“Those guys [in the Heavyweight Grand Prix] are going to fight each other” to get to the championship, he noted. And he does intend to fight the winner. “I will be the next guy to fight the actual champion,” Kongo said. That, however, is a long way off. “For sure it would be really great for me to stay in the mix,” he suggested, not wanting to let his skills get rusty.
As for the Grand Prix field, Kongo felt that for Matt Mitrione, “it’s a good setup to get the rematch with Fedor, so he can prove it wasn’t an accident.” Aside from that? “I wish the best for everybody.”
When asked whether he felt the win over Javy Ayala had proven anything to his critics, ‘The Darkness’ replied that “the thing is, I don’t need to prove anything.”
“When I was with a different company,” Kongo continued, “I used to perform as much as I can. I used to perform no matter what’s going on, what’s happened to me. The thing is, today, everybody’s trying to protect his record, trying to feed the fame, and be successful. If I remember, back in the day people used to fight no matter what, used to fight for what they have. Not thinking about the injuries or whatever, it was just about the pride.”
“I used to be one of those guys, old school. I think that way.” It’s a mindset that leads him to “always give the best, no matter what, injured or not.” He added that “I always show up, no matter what. To fight is not easy, but I do my best.”
Prompted by Cageside Press about whether there was any conversation between himself and pal Rampage Jackson in regards to Jackson being in the Grand Prix without him, Kongo cracked wise. “I was like, you know what, I’m gonna f*** you up!” he joked. On a more serious note, he compared himself to a big brother in his relationship with Rampage, saying Jackson being in the tournament but not Kongo himself was no big deal.
On the extended layoff of roughly a year between his last bout and Bellator 199, Kongo told Cageside Press that “it was really bad. I gained weight, what else, I had a f***ing fat belly” he said with a laugh. “It was horrible.” However, Kongo did point out that the time off gave him time to heal, as in the past he’d dealt with both vertebrae and shoulder issues.
Check out the full post-fight presser with Cheick Kongo above! Be sure to follow us on Youtube and elsewhere for more event coverage.