Exclusive Interview: Cheick Kongo of France talks about up and coming bout versus Mirko Cro Cop
Denis Martins: You are coming off a good win over Brazilian Assuerio Silva at UFC 70. Did you feel you could knock Silva out on that fight?
Cheick Kongo: Silva is a very tough guy and I had the weapons to knock him down until the end of the first round, but my weakness was my strength. It left me before the fight and I found a strategy to make a smart fight. I still did not have time to see the fight. Out of the fight, Silva is a good guy.
DM: That was your third victory at UFC. Do you think that defeat to Carmelo Marrero harmed a lot your intention into the UFC's title shot?
CK: I guess and I do not care. I accepted to fight with an injury. That was his luck’s day. That is all. I keep my eyes going on the UFC’s belt road and to give satisfaction to my partners training, my family, my friends and fans.
DM: Inside these three wins you had, which one of your performances you like the most?
CK: I liked them all. I like all fights I did, maybe more than others. To me, it is an experience of feeling, not a fight of experience. I can feel my body changing into the suffering (I am not sadomaso, LOL). I just push my limits, and of course, I am getting better to correct my mistakes.
DM: People talked a lot about you skilled Muay Thai? How do you qualify your Muay Thai, what about your coaches and tell us your main titles into this sport?
CK: I try to be good. In Europe, we are a kind of people to manage our troubles mano-a-mano and the stand up fight is a life's style before Jiu-Jitsu and others. For me, Muay Thai, Wrestling and Luta Livre are a science.
My Muay Thai coaches/teams are Remy Bonnel from Miami, Jean Meliani and Yazid Belaouesse from Fimeu Gym France and Kongo Team from France too. I was Intercontinental champion in 2003 and World champion in 2004
DM: Also, people commented you are not good enough on the ground. How are your trainings going? Are you still training with SHOOTO Japan veteran and Luta Livre black belt, Flavio “Peroba” Santiago?
CK: I started it a long time ago. I just stayed focus on my stand up because I put at side my ground work during four years and I fought three times without a good preparation. Maybe this is an explanation about what people thinks about my ground. Do not forget, MMA is the art, so fight= science= strategy. I have the chance to be with the ones of best French Greco-Roman wrestlers in the world, plus Flavio “Peroba” Santiago and Huanderson Pavao, two Luta Livre black belts under Alexandre “Pequeno” Franca Nogueira, the best grapplers of France. So do not underestimate my skills.
DM: You trained with Quinton Jackson recently. How did you approach of Rampage's camp and when did you train there first? When are you training there again?
CK: Two years ago. Rampage asked me to train with him at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. This was for the fight against Chuck Liddell. I stayed with him during three weeks before his bout. I may go back in July.
DM: What did you think about the trainings and how do you compare the USA's training to the Europe's one?
CK: It is a very good training camp, so intense. The difference is in France, the training hours are a big trouble, because everybody needs to work to live.
DM: Is there any chance of you joining the Rampage's team?
CK: Yes, I mean because before to be fighters, we are a big family with much respect and my partners are awesome. That's the kind of things we do not have in France
DM: So are you facing Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at UFC 75 in UK?
CK: The fight is scheduled for September 8th in London if it was not cancelled.
DM: Your up and coming match against Mirko Cro Cop will be a good test for your striking ability. Is this going to be a war on the feet?
CK: For sure, I would like make the stand up combat inside the octagon, or something like that.
DM: How do you compare your striking skills to the Cro Cop's one? I meant, even he has K-1 experience, into a MMA fight the games are equivalent?
CK: It’s better for me, I will let you guess and we will see soon. This is just a return to my roots.
DM: What do you expect of this fight? Do you think a victory will put you like a contender to face the winner of Gabriel Gonzaga/Randy Couture?
CK: I do not hope, but I want to be the next. It will not be easy, but I will give my best, I want it, I can do it and I will do it.
DM: What do you pick on this fight Gonzaga/Couture? And why?
CK: A collision between the young age and the old age, this is a generation's conflict. I bet on the new age.
DM: Are you going to try a KO over Cro Cop?
CK: It is not my priority. I just make my bout like the others. I never think that the fight will develop like that, I let it happen.
DM: Your reach is bigger than Cro Cop's one, do you think this is your main weapon against him?
CK: That is not my main weapon. Once again I let you guess.
DM: Cro Cop got KO'd badly in last fight (against Gonzaga), so he needs to prove he is still good. Do you think he'll fight you with a lot of responsibility, so you can take advantage with this?
CK: Maybe he needs to prove something, I do not care. I just keep going to be good and nice. He will have a big responsibility to protect his ass.
DM: Who are the best fighters of UFC in heavyweight division? Is there anyone you would like to face there?
CK: No idea!
DM: Thank you very much for your words. Would you like to add anything?
CK: Just thanks to my family, Remy Bonnel, Quinton Jackson, Juanito’s camp, my friends, my fans and all the people I forgot now. Thank you so much!