As a nation with over 67 million inhabitants, France is a major part of the European landscape, and when it comes to martial arts, it has always been held in the same esteem as its neighboring countries—Greece’s Pankration, Russia’s Sambo and Switzerland’s Schwingen—for the prominent self-defense known as Savate.
Now, there is a new breed of warriors looking to put France on the combat sports map once again, and they plan to do so by plying their trade in the world’s fastest-growing mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
MMA is still relatively new to France after the legalization of the sport in January 2020, but it is developing quickly and there are plenty of outstanding homegrown talents climbing their way up the ranks in BRAVE Combat Federation.
Leading the pack is BRAVE CF Lightweight World Champion Amin “Fierceness” Ayoub, who holds a professional record of 16-4 with eight victories by way of submission and two by knockout.
Ayoub, who is currently riding high on an eight-bout winning streak, carved his name in the annals of MMA history at BRAVE CF 44 in November 2020 by dethroning Cleiton “Predador” Silva via an emphatic fourth-round stoppage.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ayoub is Benoit “God Of War” St. Denis, an undefeated super lightweight who owns an immaculate 7-0 standing with a 100 percent finishing rate.
St. Denis has been nothing short of spectacular since arriving in the Bahrain-based MMA outfit. In three of his last four outings, he authored a pair of submission wins and a total demolition of British veteran Mario “Rude Boy” Saeed within two rounds.
As St. Denis—a recipient of the BRAVE CF 2020 Submission of the Year award—moves closer to the upper echelon of the organization’s stacked 165-pound weight class, another Frenchmen is making waves as part of the active roster.
Hailed by pundits as the No. 1 lightweight in the United States, Ylies Djiroun (18-6) made a triumphant promotional debut in the headliner of BRAVE CF 48: ARABIAN NIGHT this past March by submitting Russia’s Abdul-Rakhman Makhazhiev in the third round courtesy of a guillotine choke.
While it is a performance deserving of an ovation, Djiroun continues to marvel at the warm reception that he got as a newcomer.
“I’ve fought for many organizations. I’ve been here and there, but not once I was featured on a poster. But they (BRAVE CF) did that for me. In my first fight, my photo was on the poster. That means a lot to me. It’s important,” he said.
“I am happy to be with BRAVE CF. I want to be here for a long time,” Djiroun added. “I don’t know what the future holds, but if you’re going to ask me, I just want to stay here. They treat me well, and the people behind it are kind. I don’t see myself leaving BRAVE CF.”
Rounding up the elite cast are Ibrahim “Ibra Kumite” Mane (8-4), Abdoul “Lazy King” Abdouraguimov (12-1), Michael “The Soldier” Aljarouj (7-4) and Yanis “The Galactic” Ghemmouri (8-1).
According to company president Mohammed Shahid, the level of athletes within the roster is attributed largely to BRAVE CF’s scouting and connection building.
‘’We have the best scouting program in the world, there’s no doubt about it,” the head honcho shared. “That’s because we connect with MMA people around the world, we connect with the gyms, with their national federations, with everyone involved in the sport. That’s how you unearth the gems that we have.”
The signature French tri-color will be shining brightly on the undercard of the much-awaited BRAVE CF 51: THE FUTURE IS HERE, which takes place at the state-of-the-art Falcon Club Arena in Minsk, Belarus on June 4th.
Djiroun is penciled to duke it out with Englishman Sam “The Future” Patterson, while Ghemmouri makes his maiden BRAVE CF appearance against hometown favorite and fellow debutant Vladislav Novitskiy in a three-round bantamweight contest.
With the foothold that BRAVE CF has already established in Europe, Djiroun truly believes that the balance of power in the continent has apparently started to favor the promotion.
“They are the only organization to hold events in Europe on this scale. No other promotion was able to do what BRAVE CF did in Europe. In my opinion, they’ve already taken control of Europe,” he declared.