Credit: Keith Mills, Sherdog.com

Peter Graham on fighting Cheick Kongo: ‘It’s a big opportunity and a win-win situation for me’


Legendary kickboxer, Peter Graham, made his way into the world of MMA in 2008. After going 1-5 in his first six bouts, in which all 5 losses were by submission, it seemed Peter was not meant for the sport. Amazingly, Graham managed to have a career resurgence and reeled off 9 straight victories. After his successful Bellator debut against Eric Prindle, many expected to see Graham in next seasons Heavyweight tournament. Then came his big opportunity.

Vinicius Queiroz, Cheick Kongo’s opponent in the Heavyweight tournament final, was injured and was forced to pull out of the fight. Graham got the call from Bellator asking to take the fight at Bellator 107 with just over a week before the event. Graham embraced the opportunity and will now have a shot at a Bellator championship with a win over Cheick Kongo tonight. I recently spoke with Graham about the opportunity to fight Kongo, Combat sports in general, and much more.

Fighting in the tournament final and possibly for a Bellator title

I am always excited for opportunities like this, but first things first is beating Kongo. I am really focused on that job at hand. In fighting, you can’t jump to conclusions. If I fight for the belt that is great, but I have to beat Cheick Kongo first.

Fighting Cheick Kongo

Every fighter I fight is the same with some small differences. It does not matter if it is Cheick Kongo or someone I have never heard of before, I take the same precautions and I prepare the same. I stick to my program. I see what my opponent’s style is, and then I work hard to win the fight.

Opportunity knocks

It was about a week ago that I was called and ask to take the fight. I had no injuries from my last fight, so I am ready to go. After my last fight, I took it easy and was relaxing with my family. I was still training a bit when they asked us, but I hadn’t done much. I wasn’t really out of shape, but I didn’t exactly have a training camp for it. I have had other short notice fights. I have fought in different countries on short notice and some crazy things. My coaches and I know what were doing. This was an educated guess taking the fight, and we will do our best with what we got. It’s a big opportunity and a win-win situation for me.

His performance against Eric Prindle

I was happy to win of course, but it could have been better. The biggest issue was with my fitness; my stamina was lacking. I am known as being a very fit fighter. I have fought all over the world, and fitness has always been a big thing for me. Traveling, the massive time difference, and going from the southern to the northern hemisphere threw me off. I arrived only a few days before the Prindle fight, which wasn’t enough time to get situated. For this fight we flew out a bit earlier, so hopefully it won’t happen again. Overall, though, I thought the fight was good. I was a bit precautious because I wanted to make sure I won. It was a great opportunity for Bellator to let me fight on their show.

His progress in all aspects of MMA

I train very hard on jui-jitsu and wrestling. You don’t see those techniques a lot though, because I know the easiest way for me to win is using my striking ability. My wrestling defense has gotten much better, as well as offense. My grappling defense has improved as well. I work very hard on all aspects of MMA. The reason you don’t see my fights go to the ground, is because we have worked for a very long time to make sure I get to do what I want to do in the fight, and not my opponent. I control the opponent by controlling myself.

Will Cheick Kongo stand with you?

I doesn’t really matter if he does or not. I don’t worry about what he is doing or if he will do this or that. I am completely focused on what I want to do in the fight. I feel that is the best way to be competitive as possible for a fight. My automatic response is that it will happen no matter what, but I think it is unnecessary to overthink as to what Kongo will do. I have a general idea of what he does, of course, but I am not worried about him. Within the fight you see your opponents weaknesses, and then you exploit them.

MMA or Kickboxing?

I am really focused on MMA at the moment. I haven’t ruled out kickboxing though. I love kickboxing. I also am a professional boxer too. I am a combat sports athlete. I love combat sports, but I am focused on MMA 100 percent right now. This is my job, and I love it. At the moment, I am focused on Bellator. I love working with these people, and I love fighting here.

The progression of his Martial Arts career

I am a martial artist first. The progression to go from full contact karate, to amateur boxing and kickboxing, to pro kickboxing was just natural. I was always interested in seeing the great Karate masters willing to fight everybody. MMA is just the next progression that you have to do as a martial artist. If you really call yourself a martial artist you can’t say ‘oh, we don’t do this or that style of fighting’. I really enjoy the challenge of MMA.

Favorite career moment

If you go on YouTube you can see that I knocked out Badr Hari with a roll kick. That was a pretty epic singular moment in my career. As for my career as a whole, it is nice to go from 1-5 in MMA to winning 9 in a row all by KO except for one. It is not often you see a turnaround like that.

 

Tags: Bellator 107 Cheick Kongo Joe Warren Peter Graham