Cheick Kongo Talks Nelson, TRT, WMMA and Kickboxing
By Dave Carpinello
UFC heavyweight contender Cheick Kongo returns to the UFC Octagon at UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen as he faces “Big Country” Roy Nelson. Kongo recently took some time to talk with PunchDrunkGamer about the upcoming fight, fighters using Testosterone Replacement Therapy, mixed martial arts in France, women’s mixed martial arts and more!
PDG: It has been over seven months since your last fight in the Octagon; what have you been doing during your time off?
Cheick Kongo: I was recovering from my injuries and I took some time to work on my own business. I can tell you now that I’ve just opened “Fragola”, a showroom in west Hollywood, California. I sell merchandise from exclusive European brands, fashion luxury pieces from Italian and French designers’ collections, for both men and women. It has been quite the under-taking.
PDG: Following your victory over Shawn Jordan at UFC 149, you are 4-1-1 in your last six UFC fights; in the new UFC.com fighter rankings they have you outside of the top ten. Do feel that this is a fair assessment?
Cheick Kongo: I don’t really care, it doesn’t mean a lot to me. I know who I am and I am 11–5 –1 in the UFC . UFC 159 is going to be my eighteenth fight in the Octagon. I have been there for almost seven years and so I think that speaks for itself.
PDG: Speaking of UFC 159 on April 27, 2013 you are scheduled to face Roy Nelson; what do you think of him as an opponent and as an ambassador of the sport?
Cheick Kongo: Never judge a book by its cover! Roy Nelson is more than tough. In three words: Heart, Endurance, and Technique. Nelson proves by himself that a fighter is not only his body. If that can help people be more involved in sports generally, then that’s a good thing.
PDG: What advantages do you see for yourself going into this fight?
Cheick Kongo: My Muay Thai skills and my physical condition. I have watched all his fights and noticed some holes in his game, some weak spots and I am working on those right now.
PDG: You have stirred up some controversy as of late with some of your comments on Steroids and TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy). What is your opinion of fighters using TRT and in your eyes is it any different than using illegal supplements?
Cheick Kongo: I don’t agree with TRT usage in sports in general. The main problem with TRT is that most of the users (not just in mixed martial arts), only need it because they used steroids in the past, and it’s not fair. This is what I think. I am a fighter, not a cheater. I am clean, I expect my opponent to be clean too. That’s one of the reason I respect Roy Nelson.
PDG: As per usual with our interviews, can you update us on the state of MMA in France, any news?
Cheick Kongo: The UFC is working hard on it. It’s all about politics. France has its own rules, very complicated ones, so they have to go slowly but surely. The good news is that we have more and more of French fighters who are fighting in international organizations such as the UFC (Cyrille Diabaté, Francis Carmont and I) and Bellator MMA (Karl Amoussou, Norman Paraisy, and former champion Tonton Mpumbu) for example. It helps a lot to promote MMA in our own country.
PDG: As a UFC heavyweight contender I have to ask you what you thought of Alistair Overeem getting knocked out by Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC 155 and what you think of Silva getting a rematch with Cain Velasquez?
Cheick Kongo: The victory of Bigfoot Silva was a surprise for many people but I wasn’t one of them. Antonio Silva was considered by most as an outsider, but take a look at his whole MMA career, he’s not an underdog. Overeem probably came into the fight a bit too cocky. Here is a lesson to learn “Don’t talk trash if you can’t back it up in the Octagon”. I also want a rematch with Velasquez, so I understand why Bigfoot is getting one. It makes sense for him.
PDG: With the inclusion of the Strikeforce fighters into the UFC and recent roster cuts, has it added any pressure to you to make sure that at UFC 159 you have a dominant and memorable performance?
Cheick Kongo: Not really. I know that I have to make it happen. Not that I could be cut from the UFC but because I want to get back on the road to the title.
PDG: UFC 157 was a historic night for WMMA and the UFC with Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche headlining the card. What did you think of the fight and what is your opinion on having female fighters in the UFC?
Cheick Kongo: That was an exciting fight and Ronda did what she does best. Everyone, me included expected her to win by armbar but Liz Carmouche gave her some hard times with that rear naked choke and that was a nice surprise. Those female fighters, they’re tough, they train hard, they’re dedicated and they prove that MMA is a nothing else but a real sport. It is good to see them in the UFC.
PDG: Are you still training with the same group of fighters including Michael Bisping and Rampage Jackson?
Cheick Kongo: Yes, even if Bisping is no longer affiliated with Wolfslair, he is still a family member. Rampage is always there to support me and that means a lot to me. I am very grateful, having them on my team and around me. Michael, if you read this, I have nothing but love and respect for you, little brother!
PDG: You had a very successful kickboxing career, 21-2 with 12 KO’s, is there a chance that your fans may see you in another kickboxing match sometime in the future?
Cheick Kongo: Maybe when I have retired from UFC but it’s not going to be anytime soon, I am here to stay 🙂
PDG: What are your thoughts of the untimely passing of the legend Ramon Dekkers?
Cheick Kongo: I am still shocked and sad. He was so young. It was a huge loss for the sport. Ramon is a Legend and Legends Never Die, as true as a Diamond Always Shines!
PDG: Thanks again for your time, is there anything else you wanted add?
Cheick Kongo: As always, I would like to thank all my fans for their support from day one. Don’t miss my fight at UFC 159, April 27th, I won’t disappoint you. Catch me if you can at www.facebook.com/Real.Cheick.Kongo and come visit my Fragola Showroom at https://www.facebook.com/FragolaUSA!
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