CEDRIC DOUMBE is the kickboxing legend-turned reality TV star who has a shock friendship with footballer Kylian Mbappe.
Doumbe is one of the most decorated fighters in French history and he has recently crossed over to MMA.
And he is now signed to the Professional Fighters League, an MMA promotion with qualification and knockout stages offering a $1million cash prize.
Doumbe began kickboxing when he was 16 after his cousin invited him to their local gym – as he was not good enough to make it as a footballer.
He told SunSport: “Yeah, I was a football player before that.
"I was good, quick but not that technical. I was pretty good but not good enough to think about a career in soccer.”
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Doumbe quickly rose through the domestic ranks before becoming a world champion under the Glory promotion.
But after Conor McGregor's stunning rise gave a boom to MMA, Doumbe was ready to swap the ring for the cage.
He said: “I wanted to reach a bigger challenge, for a guy like me who came from kickboxing it’s not easy, it’s about wrestling.
“Wrestling is a big part of MMA, if you come with a wrestling background you have more chance in MMA.
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“When I was watching Conor McGregor and those guys, I was thinking I can do it, I’m better than them.
“I just wanted to get that new challenge, the new motivation and prove to the world that I’m not just the best kickboxer but the best fighter.”
Doumbe – like Irishman McGregor – is hugely popular in his homeland and thanks in part to his eccentric persona.
He said: “I have that thing, when I talk and I say that I will knock someone out and predict the round, I’d back it up and knock out the guy at the round I predicted.
“That’s what made me so famous in France, people liked that. And, I’m a nice guy!”
Doumbe, 31, shot to mainstream fame in France in 2020 after starring on Netflix show The Circle.
Contestants live in isolation and communicate and compete against each other through a specially-designed, voice-activated platform.
Doumbe said: “It was fun, I had no fight coming up so I thought, ‘Why not?’ I love the cameras and I love to have fun.
"I love funny things, so we accepted and agreed to do it. I really enjoyed it, it was funny inside there. I met some great people and it was a great experience."
Doumbe came out after six episodes to a whole new set of fans and a year later he made his MMA debut.
His notoriety caught the attention of PSG's Mbappe, who is ready to cheer on the unbeaten welterweight.
Doumbe revealed: “We’ve got a friend together, and that friend was eating in a restaurant with him.
“They were talking about me and my friend decided to call me, I talked with Kylian and Kylian said he likes to watch my videos.
“He said he doesn’t know anything about boxing or fighting but he said he will wake up at 5am to watch me fight.
"So that was very motivating for me.”
Doumbe joins the PFL at 4-0 in MMA and was due to enter this year's bracket of 170lb contenders until injury ruled him out.
Points are earned per method of victory in qualification bouts with the top four in each division progressing into the knockouts.
From there it is win-or-go home setting up a finale fight where winners earn a title belt and $1m cheque.
Doumbe – who instead debuts this Saturday in Paris on a PFL Europe card – joins the promotion with his eyes well and truly on the prize.
He said: “It’s 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 when you get older you’re more motivated by family, so I’m motivated by the $1million cheque, of course.
“But first, it’s a big challenge and the check comes with it. To earn the $1million cheque would of course change my life, but I’m not set for life.
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“It would help me a lot and I can do good things with that money. You can buy a house, you can help people around the world.
“As a Muslim, I have to use my money to help people, so that’s what I will do and of course for my mother, you can never forget your family.”
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