Heavyweight Cheick Kongo signed with Bellator earlier this week after nearly seven years in the UFC.
The 38-year-old French-born fighter was expecting an “interesting” offer from the UFC when his contract expired after his April 27 loss to Roy Nelson at UFC 159.
“But I didn’t get it,” he told MMA Junkie. “I got an offer, but not an offer I liked.”
Kongo ended his UFC career with an 11-6-1 record. He made his promotional debut in July 2006 against Gilbert Aldana at UFC 61, winning the bout by TKO at 4:13 in the first round. His sole draw came during UFC 120 in October 2010, when he was docked a point for holding onto Travis Browne’s shorts. His overall MMA record is 18-8-2.
Bellator announced that Kongo had signed with the promotion on August 28, but the terms of the deal were not disclosed. Kongo said he was intrigued by Bellator’s tournament format, as well as the lack of matchmaking politics.
“For me, it’s just about competition. Right now I have the opportunity to compete like I used to do,” he said. “I used to have to learn how be an entertainer, because in the UFC, if you’re not an entertainer, you don’t get the right deal. I came to the UFC as a fighter, but now I understand the business.”
Kongo said he discussed the move to Bellator with training partner Rampage Jackson, who joined the promotion in June. Jackson will face his former training partner and fellow former UFC light heavyweight champion in the first Bellator Pay-Per-View event on November 2.
“What [Jackson] said about Bellator was, it’s a good company,” Kongo said. “They treat people well.”
Jackson has been vocal about his displeasure during his time in the UFC. Earlier this year, he said the promotion didn’t treat him right, and in a joint interview with Ortiz with Sports Ilustrated this week, Jackson said president Dana White is “type of guy that will force you into a fight after surgery.”
Still, Cheick Kongo said he enjoyed his time in the UFC and was appreciative of the opportunity.
“I have no regrets. I spent a really good time in the UFC,” he said. “I respect the UFC for giving me the opportunity. No regrets, and also the door is not closed. It’s a new step for me to improve myself. It was made to make myself stronger and to try and reach a new goal.”