By Frank Bonada
2015 IMMAF World gold medallist Frans Mlambo will compete to become PFL Europe Bantamweight Champion on December 8.
Since his days with IMMAF, Mlambo has seamlessly transitioned from the amateur MMA circuit to become a prominent figure in the world of professional mixed martial arts. His combat sports journey has been marked by victories under the banners of top-tier promotions such as BRAVE CF, Bellator MMA, and Combate Global, showcasing his elite skill set and adaptability in different settings.
However, Mlambo has now found a home in the Professional Fighters League (PFL), a major player in the global MMA scene, particularly outside the UFC. His success in the PFL, with impressive wins in Germany and Paris, underscores his key role in the promotion’s expansion into the European MMA market. Currently preparing for the PFL Europe Championships Finale in his home country of Ireland, Mlambo stands on the precipice of another significant career milestone.
Reflecting on his journey, Mlambo spoke with IMMAF about his participation in the 2015 World Championships and its role in preparing him for the leap to professional MMA:
“I look back at my IMMAF experience right now as something that I just had to do… I heard of the IMMAF’s and was like right, that’s obviously what I need to do, to feel like I’m ready to go pro. To me, I feel like that should be the rite of passage to go from amateur to pro… It’s a good way of seeing your skills and knowing yourself, and just getting the experience as well. Fighting with guys all over the world, and the best out there as well. So yeah, I just feel like it’s fantastic. I actually wish that it would have been a thing sooner, but it was perfect.”
Known for his exceptional striking prowess, Mlambo faces an intriguing challenge in the PFL Europe Finals, where he will take on his former training partner, Khurshed Kakhorov, a formidable power puncher with an 11-1 record. Expressing confidence in his strategy, Mlambo highlighted the need to avoid Kakhorov’s big shots, emphasizing his familiarity with the opponent’s style and asserting that he possesses the winning formula:
“The template for this is already out there. We know exactly what he brings to the table, and it’s just about avoiding that big power shot that he has. He’s just very powerful, and we just need to stay away from them shots… I know exactly how to beat him.”
Sharing the spotlight with Mlambo is fellow IMMAF alum John Mitchell, who, like Mlambo, is set to vie for a PFL Europe title, this time in the lightweight division. The success of both athletes on this global stage highlights the efficacy of the IMMAF pathway in preparing fighters for the demands of professional competition.
Frans Mlambo’s story in particular serves as a testament to the effectiveness of the IMMAF platform in nurturing talents that can seamlessly transition to and excel in the competitive realm of professional MMA.