Francis Ngannou Channeled Memories From Rough Childhood To Fuel UFC Success

Published 03/31/2021, 10:24 AM EDT
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 17: Francis Ngannou of Cameroon celebrates his KO victory over Cain Velasquez in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 17, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


Francis Ngannou is the Baddest Man on the Planet. If you don’t believe us, it is signified through the big gold belt around his waist. Ngannou became UFC Heavyweight Champion by toppling Stipe Miocic at UFC 260, becoming the first Cameroonian fighter to get the crown.

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His life story isn’t that of the typical MMA fighter. Ngannou didn’t even train in MMA until he was in his twenties and spent his young life working in sand mines to make ends meet. The harsh reality of his childhood sticks with him as Ngannou opened up to Ariel Helwani about how he carries those memories forward.

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“I remember a lot of it. I remember after my parents got divorced when I was six. And then I went to my aunt’s and from there on, even before that, I still remember many things. But from there on, I remember almost everything.

Ngannou added, “Those stuff would get me upset. But at the moment’s time, it’s the thing that has always been the fire in me, pushing me forward. It’s been my drive, my motivation, because I think about it. Be really upset about it and I want to take a revenge. I truly remember a lot about everything.”

Francis Ngannou: Could he ascend to GOAT status?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 27: Francis Ngannou of Cameroon reacts after his victory over Stipe Miocic in their UFC heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 260 event at UFC APEX on March 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Francis Ngannou just beat the Heavyweight GOAT in Stipe Miocic. Considering the other names he has on his resume, it might be the right time to start looking at Ngannou as one of the best the division has ever seen. While Miocic should get the nod ahead of Ngannou for now, a dominant title reign is all Ngannou needs to cement his status.

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While it is easier said than done to have a dominant title reign, Ngannou has the aura of the next dominant champion. The heavyweight record of title defenses is four, set by Stipe. The highest consecutive defenses are also at three by the man Ngannou just beat. Surpassing these records may allow him to take over this conversation.

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The goalposts in the Heavyweight GOAT discussion keep changing. It was Cain Velasquez a few years ago until people started championing Daniel Cormier. Stipe earned the title after beating DC twice, but maybe Ngannou will take that title as well.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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