Francis Ngannou mobbed on return to Cameroon as UFC heavyweight king hands belt to his mom amid wild scenes on streets (VIDEO)
In footage that has gone viral online, 'The Predator' arrives at the airport in the west African nation's largest city, Doulala and is given a bouquet of flowers before being escorted through the crowd by police as his proud mother holds the heavyweight strap over her shoulder.
The clip then cuts to the streets of the metropolis of three million people, which are packed with punters desperate for a glimpse of the new champ.
With the only path cleared for a humble Toyota containing Ngannou lifting his prized possession aloft, the crowds battle with security for a chance to draw close to their native son, who famously had to flee to Europe by hook or by crook to realize his MMA dream.
🇨🇲 @FrancisNgannou gets a hero's reception on his return to Cameroon!The new heavyweight champion put the belt on his mother and toured the streets of Douala!(🎥 @ckomentmagazine & @DidierLefa) pic.twitter.com/Esak79mSE6— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) April 28, 2021
Jailed for crossing the Morocco and Spain border over sea, Ngannou was homeless on the streets of Paris before finally winding up at the Factory gym.
As the vehicle manages to set off, fans chase it while chanting, brandishing the official Cameroonian flag and camera phones which take snaps of the brawler.
Also gifting the gold championship belt to his mother, Ngannou's day takes in a visit with football legend Rigobert Song, who represented their shared homeland in four World Cups before retiring as the national team's most capped player.
What an incredible night for my brother @usman84kg!! What an improvement in his striking game! He's known as a wrestler but he's been putting guys in a striking clinic in such a clean & dominant way. So if you can't wrestle him and you can’t strike him then what else can you do? pic.twitter.com/NB7AN4AjHD— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) April 25, 2021
Yet while Song helped The Indomitable Lions lift the African Cup of Nations twice, global success was never forthcoming in a glittering career, and Ngannou has every chance to overtake him as the country's biggest sporting treasure.
He could achieve that by putting together an impressive run of title defenses in the UFC's most unpredictable and brutal weight class, although pay disputes mean Ngannou is currently waiting to learn who his next opponent will be.
With light heavyweight king Jon Jones accused of pricing himself out of a showdown via demands of $30 million to meet Ngannou in the octagon, a chance to avenge the other loss in his career – aside from a loss to Miocic at UFC 220 in January 2018 – is most likely by taking on Derrick Lewis.Also on rt.com ‘$10 million is way too low’: Jon Jones details demands over Ngannou superfight, says ‘I want my payday’
"We tried to work with Jon and we eventually have to move on because realistically, and in all honesty, Derrick Lewis is the guy who deserves the fight," said UFC president Dana White, when asked who Ngannou will face next on The Bill Simmons podcast last week.
"Derrick Lewis is a heavyweight, he beat Francis Ngannou [already in 2018], he’s looked good in his last couple of fights, he’s ranked in the top three, I think, and he deserves the fight."
Addressing White's claims about his extravagant asking price, Jones gave his version of the story.
I never discussed wanting 30 million with you or Hunter @danawhite just wondering where you heard that number? Is someone speaking with you on my behalf or...— BONY (@JonnyBones) April 23, 2021
"I never discussed wanting $30 million with you or [Chief Business Officer] Hunter [Campbell]," he told White on Twitter, tagging the UFC supremo.
"Just wondering where you heard that number? Is someone speaking on my behalf or…" Jones trailed off.
As his dance partner is being decided, however, Ngannou has remained active in the UFC by attending its sell-out event in Jacksonsville last weekend prior to heading home.
I also want to say keep your head up champ @MmaWeili. You are at the top of the top not only in your division but in all women mma but it happens in sports when the best cross path. You will be back stronger I have no doubts. 💪🇨🇳 pic.twitter.com/zcf1TlRn3e— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) April 25, 2021
In fellow African Kamaru Usman's corner for the welterweight ruler's second-round destruction of Jorge Masvidal, Ngannou also offered support to Zhang Weili – who was relieved of her strawweight crown through a stunning kick to the head by Rose Namajunas.
"You are at the top of the top, not only in your division, but in all women's MMA," he wrote in the caption of a photo of the trio.
"But it happens in sports when the best cross paths. You will be back stronger, I have no doubts."Also on rt.com 'Francis Ngannou can beat Tyson Fury with a boxing training camp': UFC champ's striking coach Dewey Cooper to RT Sport (VIDEO)