As UFC representatives, the likes of heavyweight sensation Francis Ngannou and featherweight ‘Firekid’ Tom Duquesnoy are front and center in the hunt of national acceptance and a mainstream breakthrough for French MMA. However, French MMA Commission (Commission Française de Mixed Martial Arts, CFMMA) president Bertrand Amoussou believes that an even more significant hopeful exists in the form of Women’s Flyweight competitor Morgane Ribout, a former world judo champion. IMMAF.org recently quizzed Amoussou, himself a judo master and Pride Bushido veteran, on how success of a standout French athlete could sway opinions and turn around the political scene which last year saw questionable new laws effectively ban MMA competition within the nation. In February IMMAF.org reported the latest twist in which a national watchdog was established following a government report which ruled in favor of MMA regulation, once against setting French MMA on a path towards potential legalization. Amoussou described MMA’s situation in France as ‘very particular,’ and expressed that, at this time, an athlete breakthrough from within the MMA world would not be enough to effectively grab the attention of the nation and its Sports Ministry, especially while the nation’s leading MMA standouts have not yet transcended the limits of France’s MMA fanbase. An ideal example of someone who could make a difference, he suggested hypothetically, would be a transitioning athlete who is deeply respected such as 28-year-old Teddy Riner, a 7 time world judo champion and 2 time Olympic champion. “Also,” he joked, “If Paul Pogba wants to fight MMA then maybe he could have a huge impact on the immediate recognition of the sport.” However, in late 2016 a promising tremor was felt across France as it was announced exclusively by Le Point, an established political and news magazine, that 2009 world judo champion Ribout was preparing to cross over to MMA. While Ribout may not be recognized by everyone on the streets of France, her achievements and commitment to French success on the world sport platform are nonetheless embedded within the nation’s history, enough to elicit interest from the public and respected publications. “Morgane could be a great representative for our cause,” Amoussou suggested. “When she announced that she would move into to MMA she made a quite big buzz.” Ribout successfully completed her pro MMA debut on April 8 headlining at CFC 3, a steadily emerging show based in Lebanon. The 29-year-old dished out effective strikes before dispatching of her opponent in clinical judo fashion, bringing an end to the bout in less than 2 minutes via Armbar (pictured below). Ribout then proceeded to assist in helping her opponent, Walaa Abas, back to her feet. As CFMMA and national stakeholders continue their efforts on the frontline of national MMA regulation, could the former Ribout be one to progress and ignite a spark that sees the French people invest in one of their own – a home grown MMA champion? Photos courtesy of MMA Middle East & North Africa.
France’s ready-made MMA star: ‘Morgane Ribout created a buzz’
By IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran