Five Things You Might Not Know About Francis Ngannou

By Guy Portman Nov 22, 2018
Francis Ngannou has lost back-to-back fights. (Photo: Brandon Magnus/Getty Images)



Francis Ngannou (11-3) is a heavyweight fighter who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. For his next outing, the hulking Cameroonian will rematch Curtis Blaydes in the main event at UFC Fight Night 141 at the Cadillac Arena in Beijing on Nov. 24.

In the build-up to the pivotal match-up, here are five things that you might not know about the man they call “The Predator.”

1. He used to work in a sand quarry.

Ngannou was born and raised in the village of Batie, in western Cameroon. The area is so famous for its sand quarries that Batie is sometimes referred to as “The Sand Village.” It was in a sand mine that the 12-year-old Ngannou found his first employment. The back-breaking and dangerous work entailed shovelling sand into trucks and scooping it out of riverbeds. The job provided a much-needed stipend for the young Ngannou, who hailing from a poor family, did not have the means to pursue an education.

2. He has never been stopped.

Ngannou has suffered three setbacks during his 14-bout career to date. All of those losses were by decision. His first defeat was in only his second contest, a two-round losing effort in December of 2013. The Predator was not to lose again until over four years and 10 appearances later, when he was bested in his five-round heavyweight title clash against Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 on Jan. 20, 2018. Ngannou went on to lose his next and last fight by decision; a July 2018 snooze-fest against Derrick Lewis at UFC 226. In contrast, when it comes to Ngannou’s victories, judges are not required. He has won on 11 occasions, with all coming by way of stoppage. 7 (64 percent) via KO/TKO and 4 (36 percent) through submission.

3. He initially wanted to pursue a career in boxing.

As a child, Ngannou’s hero was Mike Tyson. However, the young Ngannou did not get the opportunity to follow in his idol’s footsteps, as there were no boxing training facilities in the vicinity of his village. When he was 22, Ngannou moved to the Cameroonian city Douala, in search of formal boxing tuition. There he commenced training in the sport, while making ends meet with a heavy-lifting job in the garment industry.

4. He was once homeless.

Ngannou found himself increasingly disillusioned with life in Cameroon, where he saw little opportunity to achieve his dream of becoming a professional athlete. At the age of 26, he moved to Paris with the objective of making a career in boxing. There he found himself broke, living on the streets and sleeping under bridges of the River Seine. However, in the city, Ngannou found the structured training he so craved. Initially, he practised boxing, but was soon enticed into the world of mixed martial arts. Today, Ngannou looks back on his decision to move to France as the most important of his life.

5. He only trained for a year before taking his first fight.

The muscular and athletic Ngannou took to MMA very quickly. Having omitted an amateur career, Ngannou entered the paid ranks merely a year after moving to the French capital. In his first contest in November 2013, he emerged triumphant via first-round armbar. Ngannou would go on to win four of his next five bouts before being signed by the UFC in 2015.

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