Mansour Barnaoui (19-4) may not be one of MMA’s most recognizable faces to casual fans, but still just 29-years-old, he’s built a remarkably successful career fighting inside rings and cages all around the world.
A longtime product of Team Magnum MMA in Paris, France, the ‘Afro-Samurai’ got his start in the hybrid-MMA promotion 100% Fight, back before full-rules mixed martial arts had been legalized in the country. A 6-0 run early in his pro career was halted by losses to future UFC top contenders Kevin Lee and Islam Makhachev.
Between 2013-15 Barnaoui captured lightweight titles for BAMMA (defeating UFC vets Curt Warburton and Colin Fletcher), and M-1 Global. A KSW championship bid against Mateusz Gamrot in 2016 didn’t go Barnaoui’s way, however, and a year later Barnaoui was competing in Korea with ROAD FC.
Six-straight victories under the ROAD banner saw Barnaoui snap up not just another notable MMA belt, but $1 million in prize money for winning the promotion’s 2-year long, 16-man lightweight tournament. Unfortunately, his 2019 title fight against A Sol Kwon was the last time fans saw Barnaoui in competition.
Three years later, however, and one of France’s most talented fighters has a new promotional home. Bellator announced Barnaoui’s signing, alongside six other French MMA talents in a recent press release (all of whom had already competed for the promotion in the past.) No word yet as to when Barnaoui will be making his debut, but if history is anything to go by the promotion very likely has a near-instant title contender on their hands.
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