CEDRIC DOUMBE is the kickboxing legend and reality TV star who shares a shocking friendship with footballer Kylian Mbappe.
Doumbe is one of the most decorated fighters in French history and recently switched to MMA.
And he’s now signed to the Professional Fighters League, an MMA promotion with qualifying and knockout stages that offers a $1 million cash prize.
Doumbe started kickboxing at the age of 16 after his cousin invited him to the local gym – as he wasn’t good enough to make it as a footballer.
He told SunSport: “Yes, before that I was a footballer.
“I was good, fast, but not that technical. I was pretty good, but not good enough to consider a career in football.”
Doumbe quickly rose through the national ranks before becoming world champion as part of the Glory promotion.
But after Conor McGregor’s stunning rise gave MMA a boom, Doumbe was ready to swap the ring for the cage.
He said: “I wanted to take on a bigger challenge. For someone like me who comes from kickboxing, it’s not easy, it’s about wrestling.”
“Wrestling is a big part of MMA. If you have a wrestling background, you have more opportunities in MMA.
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“When I saw Conor McGregor and those guys I thought I can do it, I’m better than them.
“I just wanted to take on this new challenge and new motivation and prove to the world that I am not only the best kickboxer but also the best fighter.”
Doumbe, like Irishman McGregor, is extremely popular in his home country, thanks in part to his eccentric personality.
He said: “I have this thing where when I talk and say I’m going to knock someone out and predict the round, I back that up and back the guy in the round I predicted.
“That made me so famous in France, people liked that. And I’m a nice guy!”
Doumbe, 31, gained mainstream fame in France in 2020 after starring in the Netflix show “The Circle.”
Participants live in isolation and communicate and compete against each other using a specially designed, voice-activated platform.
Doumbe said: “It was fun, I didn’t have a fight coming up so I thought, ‘Why not?’ I love the cameras and I love having fun.
“I love fun things, so we said yes and agreed to it. I really enjoyed it, it was funny in there. I met some great people and it was a great experience.”
Doumbe appeared in front of a whole new group of fans after six episodes, and a year later he made his MMA debut.
His fame caught the attention of PSG’s Mbappe, who is ready to cheer on the unbeaten welterweight.
Doumbe revealed: “We have a friend together and this friend was eating with him at a restaurant.
“They were talking about me and my friend decided to call me. I spoke to Kylian and Kylian said he enjoys watching my videos.
“He said he didn’t know anything about boxing or fighting, but he said he would get up at 5am to watch me fight.
“That was very motivating for me.”
Doumbe enters the PFL 4-0 in MMA and was expected to be included in the 170-pound contender group this year until an injury sidelined him.
Points are earned per winning method in qualifying matches, with the top four in each division advancing to the knockout rounds.
From then on it’s win or go and there will be a final match with the winners receiving a title belt and a check for $1 million.
Doumbe, who will instead debut this Saturday in Paris on a PFL Europe card, is taking part in the action with his eyes firmly on the prize.
He said: “This is a big motivation for me. I’m 31 now, when you’re very young you’re motivated by the fame and the belts, your record.
“But as you get older, family motivates you more, so of course the $1 million check motivates me.
“But first of all it is a big challenge and the check comes with it. Earning the $1 million check would obviously change my life, but I’m not prepared for life.
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“It would help me a lot and I can do good things with the money.” You can buy a house and help people all over the world.
“As a Muslim, I have to use my money to help people, so I will do that, and of course, for my mother, you can never forget your family.”