Though he was undeniably down, Cheick Kongo
insists that he was never out during his jaw-dropping heavyweight
battle with Pat Barry at
“I was decolleted, like the lift -- you know, go down and go up,”
Kongo explained during a post-fight interview on the Versus
network. “When he hit me, I said, ‘Whoa!’ I knew I had to come back
right away, ‘cause I can’t let him be very confident from this
Kongo, 36, looked all but finished after only two minutes in the
cage with Barry on Sunday at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. An
overhand right found its way to Kongo’s temple, wiping out the
hulking Frenchman’s equilibrium and sending him tilting to the
canvas. Barry rushed to finish and appeared to turn out his
nemesis’ lights with a flurry of punches, but Kongo came to his
senses and grabbed for a single-leg just as referee Dan Miragliotta
was poised to halt the contest.
“I didn’t see anything. I couldn’t imagine what’s going on,” said
Kongo. “I just remember saying, ‘Whoa, OK, he dropped me down, so
something happened.’ So, I had to come back quickly.”
And come back quickly Kongo did. The
Wolfslair Academy representative simply refused to be beaten,
even after struggling to his feet and being downed by yet another
Barry right. Kongo somehow stood again, staggering backward into
the fence while the American walked him down.
“It was pretty tough. It was impossible to imagine what game plan
he had in mind,” admitted Kongo afterward.
Then, only 20 seconds after being floored, Kongo flipped the
script. As Barry came forward for the finish, Kongo unleashed a
pair of right hands. The first, which landed on Barry’s left ear,
didn’t appear to do serious damage. The second was all Kongo would
need, though, a devastating uppercut which Barry never saw coming.
The Milwaukeean fell to his back, arms splayed and right leg
twisted beneath him, already out cold as Kongo rained down further
punishment from mount until referee Miragliotta intervened.
“I can say it was lucky, but I just worked all the defense I could
do for this fight. The good thing was I have a good chin,” said
Kongo, who has been stopped on strikes only once in his 10-year,
24-bout MMA career.
Triumphant in his return from an eight-month hiatus -- during which
he underwent back surgery and suffered a shoulder injury -- Kongo
asserted in a separate video
interview on UFC.com that he was around “88 percent” for the
bout. Nonetheless, the Parisian was satisfied with his quick work
and expressed hopes for a speedy return to propel him into title
“I’m not scared about anything, just a little bit pressured, ‘cause
eight months off, away from the fight, that’s something pretty
odd,” Kongo said, also noting his relief that Barry was able to
leave the cage under his own power. “He came back quickly,
recovered very quick, and that’s a good thing. It’s not a long
fight where we have to spend 15 minutes. Something sharp, quick.