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The Ngannou Effect: How Bahrain Ignited the MMA Superstar Career

LockerRoom Team
08 March 2024

BRAVE Combat Federation has long been renowned for its role in discovering and nurturing some of the brightest talents in mixed martial arts. From the likes of Ilia Topuria to Khamzat Chimaev, Muhammad Mokaev, Benoit St. Denis, and many more, BRAVE CF has provided a platform for emerging fighters to showcase their skills on an international stage. However, even before the inception of BRAVE CF, KHK MMA was already making waves in the world of combat sports by uncovering raw talent from around the globe.

Under the visionary leadership of His Highness Shaikh Khaled bin Hamad Al Khalifa, KHK MMA embarked on a mission to identify the future stars of combat sports. Hosting events in the Kingdom of Bahrain, KHK MMA sought to provide opportunities for aspiring athletes to shine on a global platform. It was on May 28, 2015, that one such talent emerged.

A young Francis Ngannou, under the guidance of coach Fernand Lopez, headlined the KHK MMA National Tryouts 2015 in Bahrain, facing off against Brazilian heavyweight prospect William Baldutti. Despite Baldutti's hype as the next big thing in the heavyweight division, it was Ngannou who stole the spotlight with a devastating knockout victory.

Reflecting on the event, BRAVE CF President Mohammed Shahid reminisced about Ngannou's remarkable performance, stating, "When you look at some of the biggest talents in the world today, they all come from BRAVE Combat Federation, and most people don’t know about it. They haven’t seen the development of these athletes through BRAVE CF. And Francis Ngannou started here in Bahrain."

Ngannou's victory in Bahrain marked the beginning of an extraordinary journey that would see him rise to prominence in both MMA and boxing. Shahid vividly recalled the electrifying atmosphere of the event and the momentous impact Ngannou had on the crowd, cementing his status as a future superstar of combat sports.

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This Friday, Ngannou returns to the Middle East to face Anthony Joshua in a historic heavyweight boxing showdown in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. However, it is in the Kingdom of Bahrain where Ngannou's journey to greatness truly began, serving as a testament to the talent and vision fostered by organizations like KHK MMA and BRAVE Combat Federation.

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