Setbacks are a common occurrence in mixed martial arts. Whether it is injury or defeat, a fighter must learn how to bounce back from unfortunate circumstances. Failure to do so can be the nail in the coffin for a fizzled out career. But when a fighter makes the adjustments to come back stronger, longevity follows thereafter.
Cheick Kongo has been a staple of the UFC heavyweight division for the past six years.
Several times throughout this stretch he has fallen only to rebound in impressive fashion. After a loss to Mark Hunt in his last outing, Kongo once again finds himself in the position where he needs to make a statement.
He will have the opportunity to do so when he faces Shawn Jordan this Saturday night at UFC 149 in Calgary.
While he was originally slated to face Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Big Nog's slow recovery resulted in him being pulled from the card. Jordan was tapped to fill his spot and despite the change of opponent, Kongo is ready to give the fans what they want to see.
"I was preparing for Big Nog but he was hurt and now I fight Shawn Jordan," Kongo told Bleacher Report. "I was ready for a good fight against Big Nog but that's how it goes some times—that's life. The UFC found a new opponent and everything is okay. It is important for the fan base to have a good fight. I'm here and I'm doing my thing."
"In preparation for the fight with Jordan I didn't really change anything in my camp. I worked with my coaches and on my sparring. I was obviously training my jiu-jitsu and that switched to wrestling after my opponent changed."
"No fighter is the same and we have to be very smart and disciplined in how we attack. I'm very confident in my skills and it is going to be a great fight. I'm getting the victory and I'm going to get back on track."
Throughout his time in the UFC heavyweight division, Kongo has witnessed plenty of change. For years, the weight class was thin on talent but now it has become one of the most competitive divisions in the organization. While Kongo hopes to eventually regain his contender status he is well aware fighters on the rise such as Jordan are looking to take his place.
"New fighters are coming into the division all the time and they are looking to replace the more established fighters," Kongo said. "A fight like this is important for me because I need to stay in the rankings and get back to the top of the division."
"There is a variety in the heavyweight division now and more guys are closer to my weight. I used to have to be careful about being taken down by bigger guys. Now there is a mixture of strikers, wrestlers, jiu-jitsu guys and I have to be prepared to handle that. The division right now is really good and I like that. It makes it a better challenge."