Eastbourne’s mixed martial arts heavyweight Oli Thompson insists he’s leaner and stronger than ever as he returns to fight action at Bellator 172.
Thompson will take on Frenchman Cheick Kongo on the main card at the SAP Center in San Jose, California on Saturday, February 18.
Kongo will take a three-fight winning streak to the cage having recently beaten Tony Johnson, Viniciiuz Queiroz and Alexander Volkov. Thompson made his Bellator debut in July and saw a five-fight winning run end after the Eastbourne man suffered a TKO loss to Matt Mitrione. Thompson said, “I’m in the best possible shape. I agreed to take the previous fight quite late and I didn’t train as much as I would have liked. I tired in the closing stages of the fight and it cost me.
“I don’t see that happening this time. I have been training for this since before Christmas. I’m leaner and stronger and I feel in the best shape of my life - I can’t wait.”
Kongo, 41, is an experienced performer and is well-known within MMA circles for his battling displays in UFC. In 2011 at UFC 137 he beat Thompson’s conqueror Mitrione by unanimous decision. He joined the Bellator promotion in 2013 and continues to be a fearsome competitor.
“I know him well, added Thompson. “We have trained to together and I know what I have to do to beat him. He has changed his style recently. He was a stand-up fighter with plenty of knees and kicks but he has started to wrestle more in his recent fights. He was caught with a few heavy Ko’s so perhaps he thought he needed to change a bit.
“This is a huge fight for me and I’m ready. I plan to make life very difficult for him. I have plenty of options, I don’t just have the one game plan. If something isn’t working I will adapt and hit him with something else. It’s going to be a great fight!”
Thompson has fought in America three times before but it’s his first time in the States with the Bellator promotion. The last fight saw 24,000 fight fans in attendance with 1.85m viewers watching around the world.
“To fight in big arenas like that is incredible. The adrenalin is pumping and it’s get the blood running. During the walk-in you really feel it but when the door closes you just have to think about your training and be calm and be ready to fight - there’s no-where to hide.”
Oli thanked local businesses Firmballs, Koly Scaffolding Ltd, Rikki’s Ripped Prep, AW Spectrum Moling, Eastbourne Rugby Club and Rowland Gorringe Estate Agents and Auto Upgrades.