Francis Ngannou has quickly become one of the most recognized names in MMA for a good reason. While the heavyweight lives life in the spotlight now, his past was much dimmer.
Ngannou grew up in Batié, Cameroon and was poverty-stricken when he began working at age 12. Despite being approached to join gangs, Ngannou refused and continued to work in a sand quarry. His father was a notorious local street-fighter, which would end up influencing and changing his entire life.
At 26-years-old, Ngannou moved to Paris to follow his dream of becoming a boxer. Unfortunately, when he made it to France, he had nowhere to live and not a penny in his pocket. The Cameroonian wound up being homeless on the streets of Paris for over four years.
But Ngannou was determined to succeed. The fighter caught the eye of coaches at the popular MMA Factory Paris location. The coaches were so impressed with his ability and determination that they allowed Ngannou to sleep at their facility rent-free while also allowing him to train for nothing.
While boxing always appeared to be his passion, he began to turn towards MMA after spending so much time in the facility and grew to love the sport.
According to the Daily Mail, Ngannou won five out of six of his first professional fights on a local circuit. As his popularity in France grew, the UFC noticed and quickly contacted the heavyweight.
He was soon nicknamed ‘The Predator’ and has won 11 out of 12 matches, as reported by Sher Dog. Seven of those wins were by knockouts, with the other four by submission. Ngannou’s only loss came in 2013 when he faced off against Zoumana Cisse and was determined the loser by unanimous decision.
This weekend is the most anticipated fight of Ngannou’s career as he faces off against Stipe Miocic in UFC 220. The event will take place in Boston on Saturday, January 20. Miocic boasts a 19-2 record and is the two-time defending heavyweight champion.
If Miocic is victorious over Ngannou on Saturday, he will make history by becoming the first heavyweight champion to defend his title three times. According to CBS Sports, Ngannou is the favorite to win.