Cheick Kongo “Ready To Return To the Octagon”
By Dave Carpinello
UFC heavyweight contender Cheick ‘Unstoppable’ Kongo recently talked with PunchDrunkGamer about his UFC return against Pat Barry, injuries, his last fight against Travis Browne, trash talk in mixed martial arts and Michael Bisping.
PDG: First off, thanks for taking the time Kongo; what do you think of the UFC buying Strikeforce?
Cheick Kongo: It’s always a pleasure, David! Regarding UFC buying Strikeforce, I think this is a big opportunity for establishing MMA as a legitimate sport, because it makes it gain more respect and credibility. The more the UFC is powerful, the more it will become as popular as the NBA, for example. This is what I am hoping for the future of MMA.
PDG: It has been nearly six months since your last fight; did you have some injuries and what have you been doing?
Cheick Kongo: As you might know, I was both sick and injured. A serious shoulder injury and back surgery forced me to withdraw from fighting in the UFC for 6 months. After a long recovery due to these medical issues, I am in a better shape and ready to fight again.
PDG: How disappointing was it that your fight with Travis Browne at UFC 120 ended in a Draw?
Cheick Kongo: I was very disappointed, of course. This fight was tough and painful, I gave it all I had but it wasn’t enough to make the difference and get the win in the judges eyes.
PDG: Your next fight against Pat Barry was recently announced; what do you think of facing a fellow striker?
Cheick Kongo: I always enjoy fighting, whoever is my opponent. This is not the first time I will be encountering a striker in the UFC.
PDG: Both of you have a common opponent in Mirko Cro Cop; what about their fight can you use in your preparation for training for Barry?
Cheick Kongo: If you think that I’m going to give you the details of my game plan then you are wrong [Laughs]. Barry is a well-rounded fighter that is young and hungry but I am coming back for more, my goal is to win.
PDG: Having gone 2-2-1 in your last five UFC fights, have you made any changes to your training regime?
Cheick Kongo: The best decision I made was to get treatment and heal my injuries properly. Now that it is done, I can be focused to come back on track and have a great performance.
PDG: With so many changes in the MMA world over the last six months (UFC buying Strikeforce, Japanese MMA Financial problems & more), how important is it to get a win when you face Barry?
Cheick Kongo: A win is very important because the UFC is clearly the leader in mixed martial arts. Now, it owns all of the greatest fighters and it is important for me to be and stay one of them.
PDG: As a friend and training partner of Michael Bisping, what did you think of his fight with Jorge Rivera, the after fight antics and the calling out to fight Bisping by other fighters?
Cheick Kongo: Listen I don’t want to really comment on this because Michael is my teammate and my friend. I know him very well and I think that he is not a bad person. People need to understand that we are first and foremost, humans; it is really hard to stay calm when people are constantly talking shit about you. As you might know, Michael apologized for his behavior; he said he lost control because Rivera’s camp released some dirty videos insulting him on the internet. So now please, let us wait and see if Dana White decides if he needs to be disciplined for this incident or not.
PDG: As a fighter, how much trash talk do you think is acceptable leading up to fight and afterwards?
Cheick Kongo: No matter what I think of it, it seems that trash-talking is a part of the game. I hate it, especially when it gets personal. Respect between MMA fighters is something really important for me. It is hard not to lose your temper when your opponent is a big mouth. And sometimes, what goes around comes around!
PDG: Back to your training, what kind of schedule are you keeping now (hours, types of workouts, etc.)?
Cheick Kongo: After a long recovery, you need to be careful. I train a little bit differently but my everyday schedule still consists of running (cardio work), weight-lifting, grappling, Thai boxing and sparring sessions.
PDG: In the past you have updated us on the state of MMA in France, any news?
Cheick Kongo: I’m still working on it and all I can say is that we are on the right track.
PDG: Thanks again for your time, is there anything else you wanted add?
Cheick Kongo: I would like to thank you, PunchDrunkGamer.com and all your readers, my family, my friends, my Team Wolfslair, all my fans and my sponsors Under Armor & Whereamfrom.
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