Cheick Kongo was fighting for the heavyweight title against Ryan Bader in the main event of Bellator 226. It was a chance for the 44-year-old Frenchman to win a major MMA title, something that has eluded him thus far in his career. Unfortunately for Kongo and his team, things didn’t go as planned.
Instead, the fight was ruled a no-contest after an accidental eye poke from Bader. The champion has since gone on social media posting videos saying there was no eye poke. Kongo, however, says he was poked in the eye, and the nose.
“Things happen, I got poked in the eye. You can see it clearly when he threw the uppercut, the uppercut didn’t connect. If you see the full video, the uppercut, it kept going up on the side of my head and hit my eye,” Cheick Kongo explained to BJPENN.com in his first interview since Bellator 226. “First of all, it should make me head bounce if it connected. Second, when he tried to hit me with the uppercut and missed, his thumb poked me in the eye.
“At first, I thought I could take it, but after he took the thumb out of my eye, he had his hand around there and then poked me up the nose. The rule is clear if you poke the nose, the eye, you can get disqualified. At the end, when people are talking s**t, if I have to win it will be fairly, if I win on DQ it is bad. I also never got the chance to explain myself. Bader talked, but I didn’t, it seemed like I was put in the trash. For what? Because he poked me in the eye, like f**k…”
After Bellator 226, Ryan Bader has claimed that Kongo faked the eye poke to get out of the fight. However, the Frenchman denies that heavily and points to him fighting for a living and doing this for years now.
“He got me first with the eye poke, then he get me up the nose. People saying I’m scared? I fight for a living. If I get beat up, I get beat up. I’ve lost fights before. I wasn’t faking anything, he poked me pretty bad. End of the story,” he said. “Are they going to run the fight back, I wish so. In that situation, I never faked anything. I didn’t want to win like that, so it is good it is a no-contest.”
For now, Cheick Kongo is hoping he and Ryan Bader can run it back soon. He knows he can win that fight, and it is a fight he still wants. Whether or not he actually gets a rematch is another question.
“Of course I want it. They kept me away, for four years from the title. The title was vacant for four years and that is insane. It was f**king horrible. It is a big shame. Have you ever seen a title in the UFC vacant for four years?”
If Bellator does want to do a rematch, Kongo would like it to happen fairly soon.
“Hopefully as soon as possible. The soonest would be possible once everything is healed,” Kongo said.
But, as Cheick Kongo says, he needs to heal before this rematch can happen. He says his eye is still hurting from the poke over a week later.
“It is still hurting. I’ve been taking drops so hopefully, it is healed by next week,” Kongo concluded.
Do you think Bellator should book Ryan Bader vs. Cheick Kongo 2 after the controversial ending in their first fight?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/16/2019.