Francis Ngannou became world heavyweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the most prestigious mixed martial arts (MMA) league in the world, on the night of March 27-28, 2021 in Las Vegas, facing American Stipe Miocic. Revenge for this Cameroonian whose life has been a long series of trials. Portrait. </p><div> <p><span><span><strong>Francis Ngannou is world champion</strong> mixed martial arts (MMA) and it is an unimaginable feat, so much the course of this Cameroonian was strewn with pitfalls. <span><span>« <em>I know where I was born but I couldn't tell where I grew up</em> », Often explains the one who was born in Batié, in the west of Cameroon, in 1986.</span></span></span></span></p><h2><span><span><span><span><span><span>A difficult youth</span></span></span></span></span></span></h2><p><span><span>His childhood ? A father accused of being brutal, parents who tear themselves apart and divorce, passages from one home to another. During his adolescence, he began to work in a sand pit to pay for his schooling… His life was then very far from resembling the success story that everyone knows.</span></span>
One day, the mototaxi fell in love with boxing. At 22 years old, the interested party leaves everything for this sport, to the great astonishment of his family.
This Mike Tyson fan firmly believes in his destiny. But at 25, he was bedridden for several weeks with hepatitis B. ” I was the only one to take care of myself. Fortunately, it worked out. But psychologically, I kept the consequences of this period », he slips in 2016.
Seven attempts before arriving in Europe
Francis Ngannou is not, however, at the end of his troubles. Convinced that a better fate awaits him in Europe, he embarks on a perilous journey to the Old Continent in 2012: Niger, Algeria, Morocco …
« The barbed wire of Melilla, I can never forget them », he confessed in 2018 to InfoMigrants. From these attempts, he retains scars. ” I have them everywhere: on the ribs, legs, feet … It was only at the end of his seventh attempt that he managed to cross the Mediterranean to Spain.
Homeless in Paris
In 2013, Francis Ngannou finds himself in France a little by default, he who was rather targeting Germany or the United Kingdom. In Paris, he often sleeps in a parking lot, very rarely eats his fill. But he refuses to feel sorry for himself. ” At one point, I decided to no longer be the victim of life, to no longer suffer but to face, to fight, and I took initiatives. When I arrived in France, it was the perfect opportunity to realize myself », he told AFP in 2018.
The homeless person then looks for a boxing hall and lands in a hall in eastern Paris. There he meets Didier Carmont who, moved by his story, decides to help him. The latter, who sense the potential of the Cameroonian, however, encourages him to launch into MMA. But he swears by boxing.
A smashing debut in MMA
Some months later, Francis Ngannou, however, ends up trying. He arrives at the MMA Factory where Fernand Lopez Owonyebe drives champions. ” He wanted to train but couldn’t afford a membership, says the coach. He was already sure of himself and his performance. I thought he was still a good talker, like the others. Then I watched him fight and I was impressed ».
In 2015, in less than two years and after 6 fights (5 wins and 1 defeat), the one who took the nickname “The Predator” was spotted by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The UFC is to MMA, what the NBA is to basketball. In this league valued several billion dollars, Francis Ngannou yet spreads his opponents in a row, with astonishing power. In December 2017, he knocked out the Dutchman Alistair Overeem with a legendary uppercut.
<p> </p><h2><span><span>Two defeats that hurt</span></span></h2><p><span><span>A few weeks later, the UFC therefore offered him a fight for the title of world heavyweight champion against the American Stipe Miocic. Francis Ngannou addresses this "title shot" full of confidence and hope. " <em>Being world champion would be an opportunity to put behind me the frustration of my childhood, to bury this sad childhood</em>, <strong>he launched in January 2018 at RFI</strong>. <em>This is partly why this dream was born: to proclaim oneself, to recognize oneself, to claim one's place ...</em> »</span></span>
A few days later the pretender however bowed by unanimous decision. Dominated by his emotions, he launches himself on Miocic like a raging bull in an arena. Exhausted at the end of the first round, the challenger then undergoes the recital of the defending champion, who puts him on the ground numerous times during the following four rounds. Consternation.
Six months later, the Cameroonian finds himself again in the octagon. Facing him this time is the American Derrick Lewis, renowned for his (only) ability to extinguish his opponents at once. This clash of the titans nevertheless gives birth to a parody of combat. Nobody dares anything and especially not the Indomitable Lion, still marked by his setback against Miocic.
An ego problem?
Dana White, the all-powerful boss of the UFC, takes the opportunity to let go: he calls the performance “abomination” and castigates the character of Francis Ngannou. ” I had private talks with him just like other members of the organization and this guy’s ego was so out of control », He tackles.
The target finds it difficult to accept these remarks. Especially since Fernand Lopez shares this opinion. ” Dana White said Francis Ngannou had an ego problem. And I was asked the question, I replied that yes, he had one, reminds the coach in a podcast on the site La Sueur. Francis then asked me: ‘How can you support what Dana is saying about my ego?‘ I answered him : ‘Francis, being your coach means I have to bring you the truth. Everyone around you is afraid of you. Everyone wants to be close to you, wants to enjoy your light, your hype. I do not care. If I feel you have an ego problem, I say you have an ego problem. And this is the truth. You have an ego problem, you become your own coach, you become your own manager. ‘ ».
Cold War with the UFC
The collaboration between the two men then ceases. Francis Ngannou leaves for Las Vegas, to join the Xtreme Couture team. Under the leadership of Eric Nicksick, the African resumed his ascent. The American Curtis Blaydes? Crashed in 45 seconds, in November 2018. Former world champion Cain Velasquez? Sprayed in 26 seconds, in February 2019. The Brazilian Junior Dos Santos, another former king of the heavy? Dominated in 71 seconds, in June 2019. Surinamese Jairzinho Rozenstruik? KO after 20 seconds, after a charge as angry as it is disorderly.
We are in May 2020 and the colossus is fuming. He has actually been waiting for his revenge against Stipe Miocic for over two years. But the UFC embarked on a series of three fights between Miocic and the American Daniel Cormier, between July 2018 and August 2020. ” Problem is, the UFC does what it wants, he laments. There are no rules or justice. You, as an athlete, you can only follow ».
The uncrowned king finally consecrated
Behind the scenes, relations between the “king without a crown” and the leaders of the Ultimate Fighting Championship seem icy. However, the organization can no longer refuse him a second “title shot”. On March 27, 2021, Francis Ngannou wins brilliantly. He takes his revenge on Miocic, on the UFC, on his journey.
In 2018, he ensured: ” I always say that I did not have the opportunity to go to the end of my schooling and to do major studies. But life took care of preparing me to live what I am going through now. Life has overturned me, jostled me, to allow me to face the most extreme situations. So much so that today, I am no longer afraid of an obstacle. »
Source site www.rfi.fr