Francis Ngannous is considered by many to be one of the most exciting heavyweight prospects in years, and may soon inspire a new generation of Cameroonian MMA fighters to follow in his footsteps.
It’s been a long time since a UFC heavyweight prospect has been hyped up as much as Francis Ngannou. For years the division has struggled to find up and coming talent that can piece a win streak together, though it appears we finally have something special on our hands. In just over two years inside the promotion, Ngannou has gone from unknown to potential title contender. Let’s take a look at his journey to become the top Cameroonian MMA fighter on the planet, and one of the betting favorites to win the UFC heavyweight title according to NetBet Sportsbook.
Francis Ngannou was born on September 5th, 1986 in the small Cameroonian village of Batié, approximately 129 miles outside the capital city of Yaounde. Like many people growing up in this area, Ngannou lived in poverty, and had little formal education during his childhood.
During his teenage years, Francis worked various odd jobs to make ends meet. He competed in a number of different sports but fell in love with boxing at an early age, despite the limited training options he had access to. After the death of his father and a serious illness that left him bedridden for nearly a year, Ngannou decided he needed a change, and left Cameroon for Paris to pursue his dream of becoming a professional boxer.
Life in Paris
Possible Next Matches for Ngannou
- Derrick Lewis
- Cain Velasquez
- Junior Dos Santos
- Fabricio Werdum
- Mark Hunt
With just a handful of money in his pocket, no friends, and nowhere to live, Francis spent his early time in Paris without direction. It’s clear in interviews that the hulking heavyweight prefers not to reflect on this time, but it’s an important period when dissecting what makes him one of the top betting favorites in MMA according to sites like NetBet Sportsbook.
After living homeless on the streets for years, Ngannou realized he needed to pursue his athletic dreams and began training inside the Paris MMA Factory alongside dozens of professional fighters. His strength and raw talent were immediately evident. “He didn’t know anything about MMA, but the way he was moving and the way he was thinking – he was so smart and such a fast learner, not to mention so incredibly strong. I knew if he kept training, he could be a champion,” MMA Factory owner Fernand Lopez said.
It didn’t take long before Francis fell in love with MMA, and quickly began taking professional fights. In less than two years after his debut, he received a call to fight in the UFC against Brazilian striker Luis Henrique. Just like that, Ngannou became the first Cameroonian MMA fighter to sign a contract with the biggest MMA promotion in the world.
It took 7 minutes and 53 seconds for Francis Ngannou to knockout Henrique. That win sent a clear message to the division that he was a serious threat, but questions remained how he would fare against the upper echelon at heavyweight. He stepped back into the cage just 4 months later, and this time stopped tough American fighter Curtis Blaydes at the end of the second round.
Two more stoppage wins after that, Ngannou was scheduled to face a true veteran of MMA, Andrei Arlovski. This time, he came into the fight as a massive betting favorite by nearly all online sportsbooks in the UK including NetBet Sportsbook, and proved them right by beating the former champion with a 1st round KO.
His hype reached another level after this win. Even UFC President Dana White believes this man could be a future champion, telling the media “I believe that this guy has the potential to become the heavyweight champion of the world. I also believe he has the potential to hold that title for a very long time.”
Francis Ngannou’s journey is one of the true feel good stories in MMA, and he has the ability to inspire a whole new generation of Cameroonian MMA fighters. He’s already states his intention to give back to his home country, stating “I want to give some opportunity for children like me who dream of this sport and don’t have an opportunity like me.” The sky is the limit for this man, and with a few more wins he may very well make UK gambling news by becoming the first African UFC champion in history.
Will more Cameroonian MMA fighters begin making their way into the UFC? Do you think Ngannou will become heavyweight champ in 2017? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below, and make sure to check out NetBet Sportsbook to find all the best betting odds for MMA in 2017.