LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 30: Mixed martial artist Cheick Kongo holds the Comeback of the Year award for his win against Pat Barry at the Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards 2011 at The Pearl concert theater at the Palms Casino Resort November 30, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Gatekeeper? Pffffffft ...
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight contender, Cheick Kongo, who will take on Shawn Jordan this weekend (July 21, 2012) at UFC 149, declares once and for all that he does not appreciate that fact that he is being labeled by many in the mixed martial arts (MMA) community as the division's gatekeeper.
What is a gatekeeper, you ask?
Well, definitions vary from a person in charge of a gate, usually to identify, count, supervise, the traffic or flow through it or a simple guardian or monitor.
In mixed martial arts (MMA), unofficially, it basically means that if you are looking to pass to the next level of a certain division, you must first get through a certain fighter to prove you are worthy or good enough to advance to stiffer competition. A gatekeeper won't necessarily ever reach championship level status, but is good enough to provide a sound test for up-and-coming fighters on their way up.
Get it? Good.
No one appreciates being labeled as such and Kongo is no different. Make the jump to see what he had to say on the topic during today's (July 19, 2012) UFC 149 press conference:
"That's pretty weird. Gatekeeper reminds me of some activity in France like me used to do. I am not wearing suit when I'm fighting. I'm no gatekeeper. I try my best, sometimes I make mistakes and I got too much ego to pull out of fight and I'm so proud so I say yes. I used to do the right things; I got enough strength to do it. Not just because I'm black I'm supposed to be a gatekeeper. I have a dream like everyone and I am going to get it."
Kongo's career in the UFC thus far has been a rather inconsistent one, racking up a 10-5-1 record during his six-year stint. During that time, Kongo has been unable to reel off more than three consecutive victories, which has prevented him from receiving title shot consideration.
He gets close, but in the end, there is no championship cigar.
After having his previous three-fight win streak snapped at the heavy hands of Mark Hunt back on Feb. 26, 2012, at UFC 144, Kongo will look to mount yet another streak in hopes of finally reaching title contention. Standing in his way is the very tough Shawn Jordan, who is currently enjoying a two consecutive victories of his own (1-0 in the UFC).
How about it Maniacs, can Kongo shed the label of the UFC's heavyweight gatekeeper? Or will Jordan take advantage and catapult himself a bit higher up the ladder at the expense of the French striker?