When Francis Ngannou steps into the octagon, people take notice. He is an incredible fighter with an amazing story. Born in Cameroon, Francis had to overcome many obstacles in order to make it to the UFC. This is his story: from growing up in poverty to becoming one of the most feared fighters in the world. Francis Ngannou is a true champion, and his story is one that will inspire you!
A Rough Childhood
Francis was born in 1986 in the small village of Batie, Cameroon. He was the eldest of five children and grew up in poverty. His father worked as a farmer, and his mother was a housewife. Francis would often go to school with no lunch and proper school supplies. Due to the lack of supplies, he could not participate in learning; therefore, he was kicked out of school very early.
Francis also talked about how his father often got into street fights and how his father was often aggressive towards his mother. His parents divorced early in his childhood, and Francis soon went to live with his aunt.
Since Francis couldn’t go to school due to a lack of funds, he had to start working, just like many other kids do in Cameroon. He went to work in the sand mines, which are filled with mercury-infested water. Young children under the age of 10 working in such mines is not a rarity, and these children often die very young due to not having proper protection from the chemicals that are used in sand mines.
Francis worked for many years in the sand mines and a few more years doing odd jobs around the village. At the age of 22, he discovered his true passion: boxing.
A Horrible Path To Freedom
After only one year of training, Francis had to stop due to an illness. After working for another four years, he decided to search for an opportunity in Paris, France. Francis had to go through a lot of hardships during his trip to France.
Scavenging through trash for food, drinking dirty water, and swallowing the small amount of money you had as not to get it stolen were just normal circumstances for him and everyone else who was trying to find a better life. Francis had to enter illegally into Spain before he could go to France.
Before Francis could enter Spain and later France, he had to climb multiple 11-foot fences with barb wire. Every time he and many others failed, they were deported back to the Sahara desert, where they had to begin another long walk back to Morocco to try once again to climb the barb wire fence. Eventually, Francis decided to take his chances and enter Spain by sea.
Along with many others, Francis risked drowning as many others have before and finally entered Spain. However, there was a long rough path still in front of him; he was even jailed for two months due to entering Spain illegally.
However, Francis managed to get into Paris eventually. Francis had nothing when he came to Paris, he was living homeless in the streets of Paris, but his luck would soon change. Francis met Fernand Lopez, who saw the potential in him, but not for boxing as Francis wished.
Lopez saw how big, strong and powerful Francis was, and he promised him he could make it in the MMA scene. Lopez gave Francis MMA equipment and offered him to stay at the MMA factory where he could train and live.
His fate was finally in his hands. Francis soon started competing in the French MMA scene in 2013. where he acquired a record of 5-1 before UFC took notice and signed him. Surprisingly enough, the powerhouse that Francis is, he won his first professional MMA fight via submission.
The Rise Of A UFC Champion Begins
And so it began; a KO monster entered the scene. His first fight in the UFC was against a newcomer called Luis Henrique on December 19th, 2015. Francis won via knockout in the second round.
His next fight was against then-newcomer Curtis Blaydes, who is a very good fighter; however, Francis won via TKO in the second round. After winning his third fight against newcomer Bojan mihajlović via TKO in the first round, Francis started facing off against tougher, more skilled opponents.
On January 28th, 2017. Francis faced an MMA legend Andrei Arlovski against whom he won via TKO in the first round.
Next up was supposed to be Junior dos Santos; however, their bout was scrapped due to a potential USADA violation.
On December 2nd, 2017. at UFC 218 is when the world took notice of Francis. Alistar Overeem is a legend of the MMA and kickboxing world; however, even being a skilled veteran was not enough to avoid Francis’s powerful uppercut. Overeem was brutally knocked out in the first round. That knockout was labeled one of the most brutal knockouts of all time.
Next up was his toughest challenge yet, the UFC Heavyweight champion himself, Stipe Miočić, who handed Ngannou his first UFC loss via unanimous decision.
The next three fights vs. Curtis Blaydes, Junior dos Santos, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik ended all with a knockout in the first round, giving Francis once again the opportunity to fight against Stipe Miočić.
The New And Improved Francis Ngannou
Francis was always a very powerful fighter; however, he always relied on his power alone, while his technique was lacking behind. For example, as soon as the fight went to the ground, Francis was kind of lost when matched up against skilled heavyweights. But Francis learned from his failures and decided to become more well-rounded.
At UFC 260, on March 27th, 2021. Francis yet again faced off against Stipe Miočić. Everyone thought that Stipe would once again take home the victory, but what happened in the first round shocked everyone. We saw a patient and much more skilled Ngannou. As soon as Stipe went for the takedown, Francis snuffed it and took Stipes back. Francis won the fight via knockout in the second round.
His last fight was against the most technically sound fighter on the heavyweight rooster, Ciryl Gane. Francis faced Ciryl at UFC 270, winning by a unanimous decision, the first decision win of his career.
I am sure we will see much more of Francis in the future; he might even transition to boxing once his UFC contract comes to an end.
Francis’ story is an inspiring one of determination and perseverance. No matter what obstacles he has faced in life, he has always fought through them and come out victorious. He is a true champion, both inside and outside of the octagon. Francis Ngannou is a true inspiration, and his story is one that will stay with you long after you read it.