In Paris, a monster lurks in the shadows… stalking his prey. He waits patiently for the right moment to strike. When the perfect opportunity arises, le Prédateur raises his weapons and vanquishes the target in one swift strike.
Francis Ngannou has come to collect the souls of the Heavyweight division, and he’s only getting better as time goes on.
As Ngannou continues his fascinating rise in Mixed Martial Arts by knocking out legends with punching power that registers out of this world, many wonder where the hell this guy came from. The answer lies in a tale that Marvel couldn’t have come up with on their best writing days.
Coming from the small village of Batié, Cameroon (a country in West Central Africa, south of Nigeria), Francis Ngannou was born and raised in poverty with hardly any formal education. He turned to the Sand Quarry by age 12 to make money for his family by shoveling sand into bags.
But Francis knew deep down he could be something more. He had dreams of becoming a star… a champion. He always wanted to be a boxer. Could you guess his favorite to watch in the ring? Mike Tyson, of course. But the path to being a top 5 heavyweight was harsh, cruel and downright unlikely.
The Predator had dabbled in boxing before, but at age 26, he decided to emigrate to France to pursue the sport professionally. When he arrived, he had nothing, knew nobody and had nowhere to stay. Living on the streets of Paris, a homeless African man found the opportunity that would change his life forever. A man named Didier Carmont found Francis and offered to train him for free in 2013. He convinced Ngannou to pursue MMA shortly after, kick-starting The Predator’s meteoric rise to stardom.
Five and a half years after finding out MMA was even a thing, Francis Ngannou stands atop a heap of corpses he carried into the Void within 1 round. With a 100% finish rate and knockout wins over quality heavyweights like Andrei Arlovsky, Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes twice, Ngannou added to his body count this Sunday against two-time UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in a mere 26 seconds.
The scariest thing about Francis Ngannou is the thought that this man has only scratched the surface of his potential. He’s only been training MMA for five and a half years, and almost killed several UFC heavyweights over the last three. Every fight is a valuable experience, and the native Cameroonian has been crushing the learning curve.
2018 was an extremely rough year for The Predator and it tested his fortitude and love for the sport like nothing before. After losing a five-round war to one of the greatest heavyweights of all time in Stipe Miocic, the seeds of doubt were sowed in Ngannou… from himself, the media, and fans alike. His next fight against Blackbeast Derrick Lewis showed a completely gun-shy and timid Ngannou nobody had seen before. After losing one of the least action-packed decisions MMA fans had seen in years, the amount of hate for the man fans would exclusively start calling “Francis” was at it’s peak. It took serious self-reflection and getting back to his roots in Paris and Cameroon to bring back the fire he once had.
At the end of 2018, Francis rematched the red-hot Curtis Blaydes in Beijing. Many speculated that Blaydes was ten times the fighter from their first bout, and Ngannou got lucky with his second round doctor stoppage win. The doubters were proven wrong as Blaydes got cracked with a monster right in the first 30 seconds of the fight. Ngannou praised his team and family for helping him get over the pit of doubt he fell into. He claims it was all a needed experience to lose and learn from his mistakes. To pick himself back up and focus on his goals.
With his win at the debut of UFC on ESPN over Velasquez and the top of the division stalling out with the champion Daniel Cormier set on fighting Brock Lesnar, the situation at heavyweight is murky. Miocic has beaten everyone but Cormier, but Cormier doesn’t want a rematch. Ngannou wants to fight for the belt, but he lost to Miocic and Cormier is seemingly hurt and waiting for his money fight or retirement. If the belt isn’t an option, we may see Ngannou versus the winner of the Junior Dos Santos vs. Derrick Lewis fight on March 9th.
Nobody in their right mind actually wants to fight Francis when he’s in Nightmare Ngannou mode. We don’t know who is next for La Mort Noire, but what we are damn sure that man better be ready for war, because all it takes is one of those nuclear bombs stuffed in size 3XL gloves to touch you before it all fades to black.