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Francis Ngannou is widely recognised as the next man to challenge for UFC heavyweight gold once the Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier rubber match in August reaches its conclusion, but as the the Cameroonian heavyweight said in a recent social media post describing his journey to Europe, he had to fight to pursue his ambition. 

Ngannou has cemented his status as one of the sport’s most dominant punchers in history. His last fight — a 20-second KO win against previously undefeated Jairzinho Rozenstruik — provided a similar result to his previous fights, where he beat the likes of Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez with early first round finishes.

Mixed martial arts gold awaits him but his situation was very different just a few shorts years ago.

“2013: 7 years ago we were freed by Spanish homeland security after spending 2 months in jail for illegally entering Europe by sea. This, after attempting for one year from Morocco. I had nothing (back) then but a dream and a faith of pursuing it,” Ngannou wrote on Twiiter.

“Some people will always tell you that it’s too late, that you can’t make it, that it’s not meant for you, that you’re not worth it, or that you can’t succeed without them (while their lives aren’t an example of success).

“Those voices are always around the corner to make you quit your dream and maybe your destiny. It’s up to you and only you if you let them get to your mind, but you can also reject or ignore the negativities around you and make it in your own way,” he added.

Ngannou eventually found himself in Paris where he attempted to pursue a career as a professional boxer. However, with money tight he was advised by coaches to take a mixed martial arts fight — and he hasn’t looked back since.

As mentioned, Ngannou’s next fight will most likely be for the UFC heavyweight title in what will be his second attempt at a UFC championship. This time, though, Ngannou appears more ready than he was before his five-round decision loss to Miocic.

And it won’t be a moment too soon for him either.