Cian “Kong” Erraught may not be a familiar name across the MMA scene right now but the Irish Light Heavyweight is looking to make a name for himself in his professional debut which takes place under South African promotion, EFC (Extreme Fighting Championship Worldwide). Erraught was announced as the latest member latest member of the promotions roster in April and has signed a multi fight contract with his debut coming in June 2016 on the promotions 50th show.
“I have signed a six fight deal with EFC and its an exclusive contract with them. They have told me that my debut will be on EFC 50 which is due to take place mid June.”
Erraught joins the promotions 205lbs ranks alongside current EFC Champion Norman Wessel’s and former UFC Heavyweight Ruan Potts, and with no fight yet announced is keen to put his hat in the mix to compete with anyone on the roster.
“They have someone in mind but it hasn’t been confirmed yet. It doesn’t really matter though, I don’t see myself having any problems with any of them. I am at a different level, they can give me the number 15 guy or the number 1 guy and they are all going to end up in the same position pretty quickly. Flat on their back.”
Growing up Cian spent a large portion of his life playing one of Ireland’s most popular sports, rugby and competed at a high level in both versions of the game (Union and League). After obtaining a rugby related injury which happened just before some big trails, Cian took part in his first mixed martial arts class. That class took place in an affiliate gym of SBG Ireland and the rest as they say was history.
“I played Rugby Union and Rugby League in Ireland, I was decent but I wouldn’t say I was an All Blacks level player. At one stage I was looking at going professional with a team in England but I got injured before the match. I played it anyway and had a terrible game and as I was coming back from injury I took my first ever jiu jitsu class. Since then I haven’t played a single game of rugby. I was just so fascinated with it.”
Erraught’s approach to MMA has seen him embrace it from a completely open perspective, not coming from a background in one particular discipline which has been a real eye opener for the Light Heavyweight. His background in rugby saw him have an easier time up skilling in the grappling and wrestling aspects of MMA, whilst the weight cutting was something which has been more of a difficult for him to adopt.
“At the very start I found grappling the easiest and I was really fit to grapple. I think given my background in rugby and strength/power lifting I felt that I could grapple and grapple and grapple. There wasn’t a chance of me not being able to stay there, I could just work, work and work.”
“The only thing I suppose I struggled with was the diet. Coming from rugby it didn’t matter what you weighed and it was only once I decided to fight at Light Heavyweight that I realised that it’s all different. I definitely have to lay off the snickers bars now.”
IRISH LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT @Ciankong JOINS THE FRAY: https://t.co/HpBhDBOLKL pic.twitter.com/K102FYmGUM
— EFC Worldwide™ (@EFCworldwide) April 19, 2016
One of the only elements of the sport which was more out of his control was deciding on a weight class to compete at, and given his weight and stature his options were fairly limited. During his amateur career, he had the option to compete at both Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight and he has now made the decision to pursue his professional career at 205lbs. A division which he feels lacks depth and star power, something he is keen to change.
“You look at the Light Heavyweight division and there are just no stars, there are no guys that you are really idolising. It definitely isn’t the same as the glory days of the likes of Chuck Liddell. At the top of the pile you have Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier who really are the cream of the crop but beyond that I don’t see anyone else who should nearly even be in the UFC.”
“I believe the Light Heavyweight division has all the potential to be the division to watch though, we are big guys with big power and fights have the potential to be barnburners. I feel like I’m the guy to get in there and prove that.”
That lack of depth at Light Heavyweight/Heavyweight is common in MMA especially across the European scene with most promotions tending to stack their rosters with lower weight classes. Building up a larger talent pool at the higher weights will be tough based on statistics alone (average height of a European male is 5 foot 10inches compared to average height of a Light Heavyweight of 6 foot 1inch), but Cian also believes that these “bigger guys” fail with the mental aspects of the sport before getting into a position to compete.
“There are a lot of guys joining gyms who have big egos and as soon as they turn up and get schooled by a small guy they leave. It really turns a lot of guys away and I put that down to the mindset of the bigger man. In general big guys think slower, they don’t want to fight at a quicker pace as they need stronger lungs and a stronger heart. But that’s just part of the game for me. You are either capable or you are not.”
“The first few times that I rolled was with a blue belt and he absolutely wrapped me up in knots. I was about 119 kilos and they wouldn’t have been anymore than 79 kilos at the time and I was getting tapped out every two or three minutes. But I really enjoyed that process of learning and I was fascinated by it. A lot of it is down to bigger guys not wanting to be messed about by smaller guys.”
Whilst being unable to get the bigger guys to overcome that frame of mind will be tricky, Cian does have a simple formula to follow which he feels witll help put him in a step ahead of the other European Light Heavyweights looking to make an impact on the scene.
“I think that the fans just want someone they can get behind and I want to change that. I want to the one of those guys people are excited about and go out of their way to see my fights. The lack of depth in the division I really see as an advantage for me and I feel that it will help me move on quickly.”
Coming from a team sports background like rugby to a sport in which is solely onerous on the individual come fight night, Cian has adapted with relative ease to dealing with performing on his own on fight night. A lot of that confidence he puts down to the support he gets from his team mates in the gym.
“I am lucky enough that first gym I walked into was an affiliate of SBG. The ethos of the gym and the way training is structured, I really don’t think I could have found a better place. There is motto at the gym which is “One tribe, one vibe” and we all help each other to get better which has a knock on effect with everyone. So if I am trying to help you get better, then I have to be a better me to do that. In rugby you can have bad days and kind of hide behind the team, in MMA you cant blame anyone else but I really enjoy that.”
Having discussed his past, what got him into MMA and his focus on the future throughout the duration of our chat I was also keen to understand the origins of the nickname “Kong”, which is something his ex rugby teammates can take credit for.
“Haha yes my nickname was from the rugby days. I had thought of changing it to another one I had from my rugby days which was “Man Child” (I was 17 and the biggest player on the Senior squad). Cian “Kong” was from rugby and was supposed to sound like King Kong, I like to think of myself as a Silverback. I also did get the chance to change my nickname to “Megatron” as I had a square head guard when I played rugby but I have decided to stick with “Kong”.
With his career now set to take the next step as he is set to make his professional debut in June, you can be sure that if you are not already familiar with him, by the end of 2016 he is determined to make sure that Cian “Kong” Erraught isn’t a name you don’t know.
Cian is a NutriSci Nutrition sponsored athlete and you can follow Cian on twitter @CianKong, Instagram @CianKongMMA.
Follow EFC on twitter @EFCWorldwide and on facebook at facebook.com/EFCWorldwide