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Nkosi Ndebele: From the Ghettos of South Africa to the World MMA Stage

LockerRoom Team
29 March 2023

Nkosi "The Future" Ndebele of BRAVE Combat Federation will compete in the co-main event of BRAVE CF 70 next month in the biggest professional fight of his life. With a five-fight winning streak stretching back to 2019, South Africa's Ndebele is just a few weeks away from meeting Jose "Shorty" Torres in a potential number-one contender clash on April 23 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Competing for a world title is one of the most difficult trials and the culmination of most fighters' careers, but "The Future" has faced adversity before. He was born a fighter and grew up on the streets of Diepsloot, South Africa, facing significantly more life-or-death situations.

The rough upbringing

Born in Germiston's primary transit hub, Ndebele and his siblings were forced to relocate to Diepsloot, a densely populated ghetto plagued by poverty, violence, inadequate housing, and high levels of unemployment.

It was a harsh environment, and Ndebele was frequently in trouble. Ndebele, who was born with an inherent fighting spirit, was tired of life always pounding him down and being unable to stand up to the elements surrounding him. The streetwise Nkosi began training in Karate, which helped him protect himself and his buddies.

His earliest experience with controlled fighting came from Karate contests, which gradually widened his horizons as he fought all throughout South Africa. Around this time, the MMA craze had already reached South Africa's shores, and Ndebele was interested by what mixed martial arts had to offer and signed up with the famed Nova MMA club, where he trained under the supervision of the respected JD Du Plessis. Ndebele rapidly took to the sport and was a natural fighter.

Competing at the IMMAF platforms

"The Future" realised his full potential by becoming a two-division amateur champion on the local circuits. He competed in national amateur tournaments, and his talent gained him a spot on the South African national squad before he won the IMMAF Africa Open in 2017. During that year, the child from crime-ridden Diepsloot boarded his first international flight to the Kingdom of Bahrain, the birthplace of BRAVE Fighting Federation.

There, Ndebele competed in the IMMAF World Championships, gaining valuable experience on his road to becoming Africa's top amateur. At the time, BRAVE CF was attempting to establish a scouting programme dedicated to the development of MMA in Africa, and Ndebele was the ideal candidate. He subsequently moved on to the professional circuit, where he thrived under the BRAVE Fighting Federation banner.

Making his professional MMA debut

Ndebele made his professional MMA debut against Ahmed Faress, who had a record of 14 and 2 at the time, in the BRAVE CF 19 event in South Africa. Ndebele demonstrated glimpses of his potential when he defeated his much more experienced opponent in round one, and it was at that point that "The Future" determined he wanted to pursue a career in MMA.

His sole loss in seven fights came in his second professional battle, when he moved up a weight class to face a more experienced opponent and a 6-3 black belt jiu-jitsu practitioner. After dominating with four knockouts and two decision victories, Ndebele has been unbeatable, with his solitary setback coming at Featherweight. Ndebele has competed for BRAVE CF in his home country of South Africa, as well as Brazil, Bahrain, and Indonesia.

ALSO READ | BRAVE CF 70: Jose Torres vs. Nkosi Ndebele announced as the co-main event

"The Future" will represent Africa on European soil for the first time at BRAVE CF 70. In Slovenia, he has the best chance of his life. Nevertheless, regardless of the outcome of his co-main event fight against "Shorty" Torres, Nkosi Ndebele is already a winner. 

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