Bellator 265: Cheick Kongo Sounds Off On Promotion Not Booking Bader Rematch

At 46, Bellator heavyweight Cheick Kongo has all sorts of accolades to his name. The oldest fighter on the promotion’s roster has the most fights, and wins, in the heavyweight division, for starters.

What “The Darkness” does not have is a world championship. That’s thanks in no small part to his fight with Ryan Bader in 2019 being waved off early due to an accidental eye poke by Bader.

Ahead of his return at Bellator 265, where he faces fellow veteran Sergei Kharitonov, Kongo (30-11-2, 2NC) sounded off about the promotion’s failure to book a rematch.

“Honestly, I’m happy you mentioned that. Unfortunately, it used to be in the promotion, probably, you used to clear [up] that fact and make the fight again. But for some reason, some people doesn’t have the same idea or right sense to clear it [up],” said Kongo, who has the clear desire to see “who is the winner, and who is not.”

“Since then, for sure months passed, and life keeps going on. They skipped me during the tournament. They skipped me for the interim belt. I don’t know why,” the French fighter added. Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix actually came prior to Kongo’s fight with Bader; he was not part of the tournament. This summer, with Bader tied up in the light heavyweight grand prix, the promotion crowned a new champ: Vitaly Minakov.

In fact, Kongo has fought just once since the Bader fight, losing a split decision at home in Paris against Tim Johnson. “When you have a number one, a number two, it’s about that, you’re not going to pick a number three, number four, or number five to face the number one, you know what I mean?” said Kongo.

“I don’t know. Honestly I have no hope for this, because to me, it doesn’t make sense,” he finished on the subject.

Still, it feels as if Kongo’s career will be incomplete if he doesn’t come around to the belt again. In the meantime, however, there’s Kharitonov in front of him. “Both of us have the skills to perform in good condition. He’s used to being under pressure many times,” Kongo said of his fellow veteran heavyweight. “I don’t know what will be next for both of us, but just enjoy the show. Being able to keep pushing the limit, that’s what we do.”

Watch the full Bellator 265 media day appearance from Cheick Kongo above. The event takes place this Friday, August 20 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.