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By: Brad Walker, MMATorch Contributor
MMATorch contributor Brad Walker had the opportunity to speak with UFC Heavyweight Cheick Kongo this week via email ahead of the French striker's bout with Mark Hunt in Japan next month. Here is their conversation:
BRAD WALKER: First of all Cheick let me thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk to me and MMATorch!
CHEICK KONGO: It's a pleasure, you're welcome, anytime Brad!
WALKER: What was it like to first step in the Octagon and win back at UFC 61?
KONGO: It was amazing; first fight in UFC in Las Vegas, first big win over Gilbert Aldana (May he rest in peace), I couldn't expect better!
WALKER: You've had some incredible moments inside the octagon, what is your personal favorite?
KONGO: My favorite moment is against Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 75 when the referee raises my hand up; I take a great deal of personal gratification from that fight.
WALKER: In the UFC you have lost twice by split decision, once to Carmelo Marreo and once to Heath Herring, do you feel the decisions should have gone your way?
Not for Marrero, but I believe that my loss by split decision against Herring is pure robbery.
WALKER: Recently in a column I said your stock in the division is rising, where do you see yourself going in 2012?
KONGO: I see myself on top of the division :) I wanna fight for the title. 2012 is a big year for me.
WALKER: In your fight with Pat Barry you had the most unlikely and incredible knockout in years, how much of that do you remember?
KONGO: Thank You. Sometimes things go like this. You never know what could happen during a fight. I remember everything, but for me, there's nothing to be exciting about; I was very dedicated to my goal, I knew I had to win by all means necessary. This is what I've done there and now i am working on the next step.
WALKER: You've managed a solid 10 wins in the UFC, where do you rank yourself currently in the heavyweight division?
KONGO: Top 5. Next question. (laughs)
WALKER: You held numerous titles in kick boxing, do you believe thats your cornerstone in MMA?
KONGO: Not too much in kick boxing, but mainly in Muay Thai Boxing. Most people would define me as a striker, that's true, but I have also developed all aspects of a complete MMA athlete's game.
WALKER: What do you think of Alistair Overeem?
KONGO: He's a very good fighter. I am just a little bit disappointed by the fact that he could fight so quickly for the HW UFC Title while it took Cain Velasquez six wins in a row to fight the Champion (Brock at this time). This is not fair.
WALKER: If you could rematch one of your last two losses, Frank Mir or Cain Velasquez, who would you pick and why?
KONGO: Mir, definitely. I was in a good shape, I had a good game plan but Mir is a smart fighter, I was caught by surprise and I lost too fast. I couldn't express myself at all.
WALKER: Whats been the hardest test for you in MMA?
KONGO: All the fights are tough, each of them was a test. I think that the worst things are not the fights themselves but the training camps. You need to adapt yourself, stay focused, constantly improve your skills, be strong mentally and physically. Hard work, determination & dedication.
WALKER: You're now training at Wolfslair with guys like Rampage and Bisping who are notoriously colorful personalities, does it bring out a new side of you?
KONGO: No, but having partners like Bisping and Rampage is a real pleasure. I mean, their outgoing nature is really appreciated when you are so seriously busy with your training. I like their personalities. They're not only partners for me, they are family.
WALKER: Last but not least, pick any one fighter past or present in MMA to have a dream fight with, who do you pick and why?
KONGO: Chuck Norris! I would love to replay the scene as in "The Dragon's Fire" when Bruce Lee pulls out his hairs! (No offense intended, i am a big fan of... Bruce Lee)
WALKER: Thanks for your time Cheick, and best of luck in the future!
KONGO: Many thanks to you, Brad, to MMATorch and all my fans there, to the UFC, my team Wolfslair, My sponsors MMAElite, FordHB, Pull In, Whereamfrom & MusclePharm, my family and friends who support me from day one . Don't forget to watch UFC 144 - Japan!
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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