Francis Zavier Ngannou was born on September 5, 1986. He grew up in the hamlet of Batié, Cameroon.
Ngannou was raised in poverty and had minimal formal schooling. When Ngannou was six years old, his parents had a divorce. Therefore, he had to go and live with his aunt.
Due to a shortage of money, Ngannou began working at the age of 10 at a sand quarry in Batié. As a young boy, Ngannou was often approached to join several gangs in his area.
Ngannou declined, choosing instead to use his father’s negative image as inspiration to pursue boxing.
Ngannou started boxing training at the age of 22, against his family’s initial opposition. He had been training for a year before he stopped practising owing to sickness.
Ngannou worked a variety of odd jobs to make ends meet. When he was 26 years old, he made the decision to go to Paris, France, to seek a career in boxing.
After arriving in Europe, he was sentenced to two months in prison in Spain for crossing over the border illegally. Ngannou arrived in Paris without any money, friends, or a place to stay.
After spending time homeless on the streets of Paris, Ngannou encountered Didier Carmont. He introduced Ngannou to Fernand Lopez and the MMA factory.
As an admirer of Mike Tyson, Ngannou first wanted to learn how to box. However, Lopez saw his potential in MMA and persuaded him to give MMA a try.
Ngannou’s MMA career was launched when Lopez handed him some MMA equipment and free use of the facility to practise and sleep.
Ngannou began competing in mixed martial arts in November 2013. He competed mostly in the French organisation 100% Fight as well as other local European promotions.
Ngannou amassed a 5-1 record before joining the UFC.
In December 2015 at UFC on Fox 17, Ngannou made his UFC debut against fellow newcomer Luis Henrique. In the second round, he knocked out Henrique and ended up winning win the match.
At UFC Fight Night 86 in April 2016, Ngannou competed against newcomer Curtis Blaydes. He won the match via TKO due to a medical stoppage at the conclusion of the second round.
At UFC on Fox 23 in January 2017, Ngannou competed against Andrei Arlovski. He won the match in the first round via a TKO victory. Ngannou received his second Performance of the Night bonus for the victory.
In December 2017 at UFC 218, Ngannou competed against veteran Alistair Overeem. He ended up winning the match via first-round knockout. Ngannou subsequently agreed to a new, eight-bout deal with the UFC.
At UFC 220 on January 20, 2018, Ngannou competed against Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. He was defeated in the match via unanimous decisions.
In February 2019, Ngannou headlined the UFC’s debut on ESPN titled UFC on ESPN 1.
Ngannou faced Cain Velasquez and won the match via knockout in the first round.
In June 2019, Ngannou competed against Junior dos Santos on UFC on ESPN 3. He won the match in the first round via a technical knockout victory. Additionally, he also won the Performance of the Night prize for this bout.
In March 2021 at UFC 260, a rematch between Miocic and Ngannou for the UFC Heavyweight Championship took place. In the second round, Ngannou won ended up winning the match via knockout.
In January 2022 at UFC 270, Ngannou made his first title defence. He was scheduled to compete against Ciryl Gane, the interim heavyweight champion.
Three and a half weeks before the match, Ngannou suffered from knee ligament damage. However, he still ended up winning the bout by unanimous decision.
Ngannou gave up the UFC Heavyweight Championship on January 14, 2023. This was because he and the organisation failed to agree on a new contract. Since the two sides were unable to come to an agreement, the UFC waived the one-year matching rights provision and Ngannou became an unrestricted free agent.
Ngannou said in an interview with Ariel Helwani that he had asked for health insurance, the option for all UFC competitors to have sponsors and the presence of a combat sports advocate throughout all contract discussions.
When contract negotiations with the UFC fell through, he decided to leave the organization and become a free agent.
Ngannou signed a multi-bout contract with the PFL on May 16, 2023. While still free to participate in other sports like boxing, he will be participating in their pay-per-view “super fight” category.
Ngannou also conducted negotiations with his opponents, promising them at least $2 million in payment.
Francis Ngannou will be competing against WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in an exhibition bout. The event will take place on October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Ngannou is multilingual and speaks Ngemba, French, and English. After joining the UFC, he started learning English.
In order to provide facilities for young people to have a place to practise, the Francis Ngannou Foundation operates the first MMA gym in Cameroon.
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