Francis Ngannou (Francis Zavier Ngannou) (born 5 September 1986) is a French-Cameroonian mixed martial artist. He currently competes in the heavyweight division for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is the reigning UFC Heavyweight Champion. He is known for being the hardest recorded puncher in the world. As of November 2, 2021, he is #4 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.
Francis Ngannou Life and Education
Ngannou was born and raised in the village of Batié, Cameroon. He lived in poverty and had little formal education growing up. Ngannou’s parents divorced when he was six years old, and he was sent to live with his aunt. At 10 years old, Ngannou started working in a sand quarry in Batié because of a lack of funds. As a youngster, he was approached by several gangs in his village to join them. However, Ngannou refused and instead decided to use his father’s negative reputation as a street fighter as motivation to do something positive and pursue boxing.
At the age of 22, Ngannou began training in boxing, despite the initial reluctance of his family. After training for a year, Ngannou stopped training due to an illness. He did various odd jobs to make ends meet, until at the age of 26, he decided to head to Paris, France, to pursue professional boxing. However upon reaching Europe, he was jailed for two months in Spain for illegally crossing the border. After Ngannou reached Paris, he had no money, no friends, and no place to live. After living homeless on the streets of Paris, he was introduced by a friend to Fernand Lopez and the MMA factory. Being a fan of Mike Tyson, Ngannou was originally interested in learning how to box but Lopez saw his potential in MMA and convinced him to try MMA instead. Lopez gave Ngannou some MMA gear and allowed him to train and sleep at the gym for no cost thus starting Ngannou’s MMA career.
Reflecting on his journey across continents and his decision to become an MMA fighter, Ngannou said:
When I started, I had nothing. Nothing. I needed everything. But when you start (to earn money), you starting collecting things: I want this, I want this, I want that. The purpose is not collecting things, though. The purpose is to do something great. Finish the dream you started.
I want to help my family, first, of course, but then I want to give opportunity to children in my country like me who have a dream to become a doctor or something. If I reach my dream, it will give me the opportunity to help those in my country who have their own dreams and nothing else to fulfill them.
I want to give some opportunity for children like me who dream of this sport and don’t have an opportunity like me. The last time I was in Cameroon, I brought a lot of materials for boxing and MMA to open a gym. Now I just bought a big space to start the gym, as well.
A lot of children now in Cameroon, because of me, they have a dream. They say, ‘I will be a champion in MMA. I will do boxing like Francis,’ because they saw me when I was young. I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have any opportunity. And today, they see me, and they are dreaming. They are thinking that something is possible. Even when they are so poor, something is possible in life. It’s not easy. It’s so hard, but it’s possible.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Career
Ngannou started his MMA career in November 2013 and fought mostly in the French promotion 100% Fight, as well as other regional promotions in Europe. He compiled a record of 5–1 before signing with the UFC.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
Ngannou made his UFC debut against fellow newcomer Luis Henrique on December 19, 2015, at UFC on Fox 17. He won the fight via knockout in the second round.
Ngannou next faced UFC newcomer Curtis Blaydes on April 10, 2016, at UFC Fight Night 86. He won the fight via TKO, due to doctor stoppage at the end of the second round.
In his next bout, Ngannou faced another newcomer in Bojan Mihajlović on July 23, 2016, at UFC on Fox 20. He won the fight via TKO in the first round. Ngannou then faced Anthony Hamilton on December 9, 2016, at UFC Fight Night 102. He won the fight by submission in the first round, and earned his first UFC Performance of the Night bonus.
Ngannou faced Andrei Arlovski on January 28, 2017, at UFC on Fox 23. He won the fight via TKO in the first round. The win also earned Ngannou his second Performance of the Night bonus.
Ngannou was expected to face Junior dos Santos on September 9, 2017, at UFC 215. However, on 18 August, Dos Santos was pulled from the match after being notified of a potential USADA violation. In turn, Ngannou was removed from the card after promotion officials deemed that a suitable opponent could not be arranged.
In the highest profile fight of his career, Ngannou faced veteran Alistair Overeem on December 2, 2017, at UFC 218. He won the fight via knockout in the first round. This knockout has been labeled as one of the greatest and most brutal knockouts of all time.
Ngannou faced Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight Championship on January 20, 2018, at UFC 220. He lost the fight via unanimous decision.
Ngannou faced Derrick Lewis on July 7, 2018, at UFC 226. He lost the fight via unanimous decision. The fight was heavily criticized by the media and the fans for the lack of offence from both competitors and was labeled as a “snoozefest”.
Ngannou faced Curtis Blaydes in a rematch on November 24, 2018, in the main event at UFC Fight Night 141 He won the fight via TKO early into the first round. The win also earned him a Performance of the Night bonus.
Ngannou headlined the UFC’s inaugural event on ESPN, UFC on ESPN 1 against Cain Velasquez on February 17, 2019. He won the fight via knockout in the first round.
Ngannou faced Junior dos Santos on June 29, 2019, at UFC on ESPN 3. He won the fight via technical knockout in the first round. This fight earned him the Performance of the Night award.
Ngannou was scheduled to face Jairzinho Rozenstruik on March 28, 2020, at UFC on ESPN: Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was eventually postponed. The pair was rescheduled to meet at 18 April 2020 at UFC 249. However, on 9 April, Dana White, the president of UFC announced that this event was postponed and the bout eventually took place on 9 May 2020. Ngannou won via knockout just 20 seconds into the first round. This win earned him the Performance of the Night award.
UFC Heavyweight Championship Career
Miocic vs. Ngannou II
A rematch for the UFC Heavyweight Championship bout between Miocic and Ngannou took place on March 27, 2021, at UFC 260. Ngannou won the fight via knockout in the second round. This win earned him the Performance of the Night award.
Ngannou vs. Gane
Ngannou is scheduled to face interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Ciryl Gane for the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Championship on January 22, 2022, at UFC 270 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Ngannou is multilingual. He speaks several languages including Ngemba, French, and English. He learned English after joining the UFC.
Mixed Martial Arts(MMA) Record
|19 matches||16 wins||3 losses|