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Francis Ngannou : The Cameroonian who wants to become first African-born heavyweight UFC champion

Francis Ngannou

Francis Ngannou’s journey to the upper echelons of the UFC is nothing short of remarkable.

Working in a sand quarry as a schoolboy, he realised he would have to leave Cameroon if he wanted a better life and the chance to chase his dreams and follow in the footsteps of his idol Mike Tyson. That would mean leaving his family and making his way up the African continent and into Europe, illegally hopping across borders before finally reaching France, sleeping on the Parisian streets.

This weekend, at UFC 260 in Las Vegas, the 34-year-old is bidding to become the UFC’s first African-born heavyweight champion.

The fight against Stipe Miocic is a rematch three years in the making.

At UFC 220, in his first title fight, Ngannou came up short, losing via unanimous decision.

Against a fighter many consider to be the greatest heavyweight in UFC history it ended up being a tough night in Boston.

Ngannou insists lessons have been learned.

“I didn’t fight my fight,” Ngannou says when reflecting on his first encounter with Miocic. “When I look at that fight, I do not recognise myself. The way that I fought, that’s not me. That fight helped me to understand and experience a lot of things, things I will get right in this one,” he told BBC Africa Sports.

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