Cheick Kongo: Three fights and I can be champ

“It feels different,” Kongo told “I have complete confidence in what I’m going to bring to this new promotion. It’s a really good chance for me to show what I’ve got. Three fights and I can be the champion. That’s what pushes me.”

It’s obvious that Kongo (18-8-2) has no desire to publicly criticize the UFC’s treatment of him. Several former UFC fighters have done so in 2013, including Quinton Jackson and Tito Ortiz, both of whom also signed with Bellator.

Any divorce of a seven-year marriage, however, is likely to include some share of resentment. In Kongo’s case, it’s based around that UFC title shot that eluded him.

“I don’t want to look like someone who is (complaining),” Kongo said. “Of course, I wasn’t happy because I didn’t get the shot. I deserved to fight for the belt. It was always just keep fighting, keep fighting, keep fighting. I wasn’t really pushed or promoted as a challenger.”
“I was injured when I fought Cain Velasquez,” Kongo said. “The UFC knew it but you know, everybody was excited about the fight. Nobody was asking me, ‘What’s going on? What happened?’ I’m not the guy to go scream, ‘Hey, this happened.’

“I took the fight and I lost. That’s it -- end of story. These guys come to you and say, ‘Yeah, come on. You’re supposed to be a fighter. Take the fight.’ You never know what to do because people go crazy. But I don’t want to blame somebody. In the end, I was the last one to make that decision.”

There were other instances, too. Kongo revealed he fought with a dislocated shoulder after a lackluster performance against Shawn Jordan and he says his left hand was broken heading into his most recent fight, a knockout loss to Roy Nelson.

All that is water under the bridge, though. One thing Kongo hasn’t lost through the ups and downs is his confidence -- and it’s unwavering heading into his Bellator debut.

He’s been pegged a 5-to-1 favorite over Godbeer in the heavyweight tournament semifinal. He’s promised everyone will see why when the fight starts.

“I think at this time, I don’t have anything to prove except to myself to be the best,” Kongo said. “And I am the best. That’s what I’m going to prove in this tournament. It’s not even about proving, it’s about showing. I have to show them.”