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Bahrain's KHK MMA showcased Francis Ngannou to the world for the first time

'The Predator'' made his first appearance in the Middle East in 2015, when he fought for KHK Tryouts, which earned him international fame

Francis Ngannou in KHK MMA Team

BRAVE Combat Federation’s scouting program has discovered many of the superstars in mixed martial arts today. From Ilia Topuria to Khamzat Chimaev, Muhammad Mokaev, Benoit St. Denis and many more have had their first taste of international MMA under KHK MMA.

But even before BRAVE CF was a reality, KHK MMA was already uncovering rough diamonds across the globe and presenting it to the world of combat sports. 

While actively searching for athletes from all parts of the world, KHK MMA, under the vision of His Highness Shaikh Khaled bin Hamad Al Khalifa, put together events in the Kingdom of Bahrain with the goal of finding out the future of combat sports. And on May 28, 2015, they did just that. 

A young Francis Ngannou, still under the tutelage of Fernand Lopez, traveled to Bahrain to main event the KHK MMA National Tryouts 2015, against Brazilian giant William Baldutti, highly touted at the time as the next big thing in Heavyweight. 

However, as BRAVE CF president Mohammed Shahid recalls, it was ‘’The Predator’’ who stole the show. The French-Cameroonian megastar knocked out Baldutti in devastating fashion, immediately putting himself on the radar for big promotions around the globe. It was that Bahrain victory that set him on an unprecedented road towards the biggest fights not just in MMA, but also in boxing. 

‘’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. That’s where everything started happening for him. I remember that fight, it was one of the scariest face-offs I’ve been a part of, and looking back it’s interesting to see how he was here as an underdog. Everyone was looking more at his opponents as the next big thing. And then we found this monster of a talent here in Bahrain, looking like a Greek god. He performed, and made it look easy. I remember he shook the place; he shook the crowd. And at that moment, it was very evident he was going to be a superstar’’, said Shahid, who organized the event as KHK MMA CEO. 

This Friday, Ngannou returns to action in the Middle East against Anthony Joshua in a monumental Heavyweight boxing clash, taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But his first taste of Middle Eastern combat sports, and the moment that he became a force to be reckoned with, will always be in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

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