Frans Mlambo on IMMAF, BAMMA 22 & McMansion
We had the pleasure of chatting with the new World Amateur featherweight champion Frans Mlambo, following his undefeated run at the recent IMMAF Championships in Las Vegas during July. With so much happening in such a short period, including his being in McMansion and training with Conor McGregor for his title fight.
Joining team KHK, as well as making with his own pro debut at BAMMA 22 on September 19th. We wanted to get the low down on what the experience has been like for the Dubliner.
Really just wanted to talk to about everything that has been happening including IMMAF, so much has happened to you in the last 12 months or less. How has it all been, has it been a bit of a whirlwind?
Yeah, kinda 12 months more or less. Yeah, so much has gone on, it all started when Conor invited me to come to Vegas to help him out with his camp. Because I wasn’t supposed to be doing the IMMAF. But then since I was going there… go on you might as well do it, you’re going to be in Vegas anyway. I was like, all right yeah let’s do it.
I was over there doing the camp anyway and I applied for it, had signed up all the things. Yeah, training was really good over there. The competition was fairly easy, the first fight I had was against this wrestler guy from Kazakhstan and that was actually my hardest fight. And I just kinda glided through the rest of the fights. The second was a knockout against this American dude and the rest of the fights, the guys were just kind are running away from the shots.
So it was good like. I’m the amateur champion now and all that and now I’m looking to move on.
Obviously you were in that TUF gym as Conor was preparing for his fight. Could you have been in a better camp going into the amateurs?
That’s a true story right there. Like I was saying, when I was going into it I didn’t feel it was possible for me to lose. I was in the best condition ever, I was eating right, everything was perfect. I was on weight like I made weight three weeks out. Because of how good I was training. But there was nothing holding me back at all. I knew definitely for a fact that I would have won that.
I did an interview over there where I said it would take someone extremely special to beat me at that time. Because I felt unstoppable, I felt really good.
So this new team you’re part of KHK. How does that all work out, do you go and train in Bahrain. Do those guys come and train in Ireland?
Well, that’s the thing, it’s the most liberal most perfect thing that could happen to a guy in my position. Where I am only just starting my career now with my debut being in just a few days and I’m after joining this team. All I have to do basically is represent the KHK team and Bahrain in general.
Because the Prince who started this team, he just wants Bahrain to become known within the MMA world and just sports in general. They have only started doing MMA this year and this guy is after taking it to the next level to make this big team. We have like two UFC fighters on the team. All I really need to do is represent them and they pay me a good bit of money.
So when you fight now on your pro debut you are not under the SBG banner, its KHK?
I’m under KHK, everyone in Ireland already knows I’m SBG. I’m still SBG, but KHK is the banner I’ll be carrying basically. It’s KHK who pays my bills. I still train at SBG and stuff.
Thing is I can go to Bahrain at any time I want. Like say after my fight now, I can go to Bahrain for a month or two or however long. For a week or for however long I want to stay there.
Me and James is on the team, so like we can go together. I can go by myself if I want and if I want to train over there I have the option to like bring two people. Whoever I want a train with. It’s just deadly, there’s no complaints about it, they have just made it perfect for someone like me just starting off my career, it’s really helped a lot.
Obviously Khabib Nurmagamedov is a major part of the team. Will you get to train with him one on one or how does it all work out?
Yeah, well I’d definitely will, it’s inevitable. We are a small enough team and if I’m not fighting and he’s not fighting and we’re over there or wherever or he’s doing his camp over there, we will be training. When I was over there we were only chatting about joining the team, signing a few things and I was talking to him and stuff.
We only did one training session because we were only over there for four days. But when we were training he was doing other things to do with media. But he would’ve been their training if he wasn’t doing that. So I will be training with him a good bit throughout the year because I would be over there a good bit.
Its unbelievable how perfect its work out.
Because if I hadn’t done the IMMAF, they wouldn’t have spotted me and there was a good chance I wasn’t going to join that. Because when I was applying it was $800 to get into it and I didn’t have that money, do you know what I mean.
I was talking to my coach about it, saying I might need to call this off because I don’t have this money. Then my girlfriend pulled some money out and I ended up doing it. Everything just kinda worked out. It is perfect yeah, I’m just blessed I can’t say anything more about it.
It’s crazy to think you were living in McMansion, but we’re almost on the bread line!
Seriously it’s crazy like, living in the house with a millionaire and you don’t even have money to walk down to the shop and grab something. I think it’s going to be different in December, I think he’ll have to pay me because then I’ll be a pro. But he couldn’t actually pay us being amateurs and stuff going over there, do you know what I’m saying. But I think it’s going to have to be a different story now.
So BAMMA 22 you are facing off against Darren O’Gorman. You two are probably seen as two of the brightest up and coming stars in the country. What is that going to be like? What’s your assessment of Darren and how do you see it all going?
To be honest, like, I never really look into or ever know anything about my opponents. But so far hearing about this Darren O’Gorman dude, looking at the comments and all on Facebook. Everybody seems to be looking forward to the fight.
Supposedly he’s a really good fighter, I personally don’t know him at all. Haven’t seen him fight or whatever. Three submission wins, he looks good like. Everyone that has seen the match-up seems to be very excited about it. That makes me excited about it. I’m looking forward to that fight.
So what is it going to be like stepping out into the three Arena. And the UFC will be there just a few short weeks later. Is this your preparation for the world stage?
Definitely is, definitely is, especially for your first one like, for us to be in that arena. After all this stuff that is happening to me, I’m making my debut in the Three Arena. It’s just blessings after blessings. That’s going to be something else.
That’s obviously going to help me out in the future as well, as starting off in a big arena. I actually have never been there before. I obviously heard about it. It used to be the O2 didn’t it? But it’s a big event, it’s a big stage and I’m looking forward to it.
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