Over the weekend, UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo (Pictured) wanted to spotlight the subtle, yet significant, difference between turning down fights and refusing to compete on last-second’s notice, and that’s why the veteran declined a December 15th tango against Roy Nelson.
“I did NOT REFUSE to FIGHT Roy Nelson. I REFUSED to TAKE A FIGHT on SHORT NOTICE. Which is NOT THE SAME AT ALL,” Kongo tweeted.
According to UFC president Dana White, it IS ALL THE SAME.
“He turned down a fight,” White deadpanned following Saturday’s UFC 154 post-fight press conference. “Whether it’s on short notice or whatever, he turned down a fight. It’s the second fight he’s turned down in a row. If you turn down fights, I’m gonna [expletive] say it.
“And if you turn down a fight, at least admit you turned down a fight. It is what it is.”
Kongo is the latest in a growing list of Octagon athletes who have declined to serve as last-minute substitutes. It’s a disappointing trend White would like to buck, but he believes it ultimately comes down to the mentality each fighter has when their phone rings.
“[Declining fights are] a lot more normal with guys who are worried about losing, guys who feel like they’re in a position where if they lose… You’re either fighters or you’re not,” White expressed. “You come out and you fight, you put it all on the line. If you win, you win. If you lose, back to the drawing board. That’s the business that they’re in.
“If you turn down a fight, you turn down a fight, and that’s two in a row [for Kongo]. I don’t know who he’s waiting for.”
Because so many of his employees have been doing it of late, White forgot who Kongo declined on the other occasion.
Matt Mitrione has since agreed to replace injured Shane Carwin and battle “Big Country” next month in Las Vegas.
Kongo was last seen in July posting a unanimous decision win over Shawn Jordan at UFC 149. The 37-year-old has won three of his last four contests.