Cheick Kongo will soon have a chance to become a heavyweight champion in a major promotion for the first time in his career. The 44-year-old Frenchman will take on Ryan Bader in the main event of Bellator 226 this Saturday.
The training camp preparing for Bader has not been an easy one for Kongo. He knows the Bellator champion is an elite wrestler so in preparation he brought in world class, Olympic-level wrestlers to help him for this camp.
“My training camp was good. We brought in a lot of wrestlers for this camp, like world-class wrestlers,” Kongo said to BJPENN.com. “They have been giving me a hard time. But, it made me better, I’m stuffing takedowns, I’m ready to go. I’m confident in my skills.”
If he can keep this fight standing, Cheick Kongo is confident he has the striking advantage. He knows how much power he has in his hands and knows he can not only beat Ryan Bader but knock him out.
“I expect this fight to end by knockout. Hopefully, it is me knocking out Ryan Bader,” he says. “But, I don’t focus on that. Just fight my fight, and want a good ending.”
If he does indeed knock Bader out, Cheick Kongo would be the Bellator heavyweight champion. He says it would cement his legacy and make him the best heavyweight in the world.
“I can do it. Age means nothing. It will show them that I am the best heavyweight in the world,” he explained. “People have doubted me, gave up on me, I wasn’t in the grand prix, this will show and prove them all wrong.”
Kongo says the recipe for his impressive longevity is simple.
“The thing is, I stayed away from drugs, steroids. All that gives you the ability to perform better at the time,” the 44-year-old revealed. “But, it hurts your body in the long run so they aren’t being able to fight this long. My lifestyle has made me be able to fight and stay at the top for this long.”
For now, Cheick Kongo is focusing on last-minute adjustments and preparing for the fight on Saturday, Sept. 7. But, when he makes the walk to the cage, he is telling himself it is not for the title so it doesn’t add any pressure.
“For what it is, it is just another fight. I don’t think about the belt as that adds pressure,” he says.
In the end, Cheick Kongo is more than confident in his skills that he will win this fight and become the Bellator heavyweight champion. If he does just that, there is a realistic chance the 44-year-old retires on top.
“At my age, you have to think about retirement. I wish I wasn’t worried about it, but I have to at 44-years-old. This fight could very well be the last one,” Cheick Kongo concluded.
Do you think Cheick Kongo would be the best heavyweight if he beats Ryan Bader?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/2/2019.