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Francis Ngannou has a true rags-to-riches story, perhaps the most unlikely in the entire Ultimate Fighting Championship. He grew up hauling sand in the mines of his village at age 12 in Cameroon, left home at 22, eventually made his way to France, and found a gym and coach while still homeless wandering the streets of Paris. His coach, also from Cameroon, let him sleep in the gym, seeing potential in the soft-spoken young giant, and the rest is history.
What he recently explained in an interview on Sirius XM makes the story even wilder: he left his village without saying a word to anyone, simply because he couldn’t tell them where he was going!
It wasn’t exciting because I didn’t know where I was going! I didn’t have a map. I couldn’t even tell them goodbye, because when you say, ‘okay, I’m leaving’, the first question is ‘where are you going?’ and I couldn’t tell anybody where I am going, so I couldn’t say goodbye to nobody. I just go visit my family. I stayed with my mom in my village for like three weeks. I was, like, looking at them like sometime like, this might be the last time that I’m seeing them. Because, you know, some people go there and some never come back, they died.
Basically I knew that if I tell them, no one will accept that. I always have crazy dream, they always saw me as very ambitious, like over high, and I was like, I’m not gonna tell them, they know that people go there and someone die..
Interviewers: What did you tell them?
Interviewer: You just disappeared?
After the flabbergasted hosts clarified that he really, truly left without saying a word, Ngannou said that his family didn’t know where he was for nearly three weeks.
I left, and after three weeks I called, and they were like, you were scaring us… I was like, no, I’m good, I’m in Morocco…
Ngannou most recently knocked out Cain Velasquez in the main event of the first UFC event on big ESPN, putting him on a two-fight win streak. His victory before that, a lightning finish of Curtis Blaydes, snapped a two-fight losing streak, in which he was outwrestled by Stipe Miocic and then dropped a lackluster decision to Derrick Lewis. His combination of size, athleticism, power, and timing make him a formidable opponent for anyone at heavyweight, and a win over, say, Junior dos Santos, could earn him another shot at the title.
Tony Evinger rocking the boom box
“A” for Alex Oliveira. Nice work by Rune King Gunnar Nelson
What is going on with PFL fighter Will Brooks these days? Just life.
Combat sports this weekend
Slips, Rips, KO Clips
The one good punch Darren Till landed on Stephen Thompson was pretty good
Jorge Masvidal on the backyard circuit
This was funny to me for some reason
The throws by the first kid are fine, but the slam by the second kid is egregious
Then adult version is the same except crazier
Slow-motion face smash
Sleep well, Maniacs! A better tomorrow is always possible. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @Vorpality