Bellator has just signed longtime UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo. Kongo will be following his teammate Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to the promotion, although they will not debut on the same card.
Instead, Kongo will be joining Bellator’s Season 9 heavyweight tournament, which will begin sometime in September or October. His acquisition comes shortly after the UFC’s announcement that they would not be renewing his contract.
“After my contract was up in the UFC, I really wanted to take some time and reflect on everything,” Kongo said in a statement. “After talking to the people around me, especially someone like my longtime friend in ‘Rampage’ [Jackson], he told me how well Bellator has been treating him and what we can do with Bellator, and after getting to know Bjorn Rebney, it just seemed like the right fit for me. I know I have plenty of fight left in me, and my fight in October is the first step to getting that Bellator heavyweight title.”
The 37 year old had been with the UFC for over seven years, claiming victories over fighters such as Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović, Paul Buentello, and Pat Barry. However, he has struggled to progress towards a title shot, losing to eventual champions Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir, as well as TUF winner Roy Nelson. Despite that, he’s managed to hold his own in the division, leaving for Bellator with a 11-6-1 UFC record. He is currently 18-8 overall, and is generally ranked among the top 20 heavyweights.