Frans Mlambo: “If I’m not fighting I’m not staying relevant”

Frans Mlambo made his professional MMA debut in 2015 amid a wave of excitement and hype.

The 2015 IMMAF gold medallist was considered to be one of the brightest prospects in Ireland at the time.

His coach, John Kavanagh, summarised his potential in an interview, calling him a ‘special’ fighter who could ‘compete in the UFC with those guys who are outside the top 20’.

However, just two years since his pro debut Mlambo now believes that he has lost the hype which surrounded his name as he struggles to remain ‘relevant’ in a sport dominated by social media personalities.

“The long gaps in between fights are killing me. I’m 3-2 now at the start of my professional career and it just doesn’t seem right. I left the amateur scene with a good name behind me. I think all these setbacks have took me back a bit. My name is fading away, which is not a good thing at the start of my career,” Mlambo said on the Obviously Fight Talk podcast.

“I thought I would’ve had seven or eight fights at least by now.

“[BRAVE FC] only gave me a three-fight contract and I thought I’d knock that out in no time because I like fighting consistently. Now, it’s been over a year since BRAVE started and I haven’t been fighting as much as I want.”

Before turning professional Mlambo was signed by KHK, an MMA team owned by His Highness Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain. He represented KHK every time he fought and in return received a monthly salary plus fight bonuses.

Initially, the deal helped Mlambo to progress but the team dissolved as the owners decided to build their own promotion, which we now call BRAVE FC.

“Once they started the promotion there was no need for the team, so that went. No one else was calling for me so I signed a contact with BRAVE”

“They have a load of fights at once but then they won’t have any for a few months. It’s a new promotion and… They’re not able to keep putting on shows throughout the year. Part of it is my fault too; I expected a lot more fights than they could provide,” said Mlambo.

The SBG fighter explained that his own negligence has prevented him from fighting for other promotions. While teammates like James Gallagher have taken the scene by storm he’s endured a frustrating two years which yielded just five fights.

“James is on the trajectory that I thought I’d be taking. He’s had three or four more fights than me but we had our debuts at the same time.

“I think that I would’ve been a bit more relevant had I got the results behind me. James is really good at social media. Taking a selfie feels weird to me. It’s awkward to me.

“I know what I’m doing wrong. I’m not much of a social media guy. I’m not super good at staying relevant. All I know how to do is fight. And, if I’m not fighting I’m not staying relevant.”

Although he’s been frustrated with a lack of fights, Mlambo has had the opportunity to take part in some of the biggest MMA and indeed Boxing events in the world.

A loyal and trusted member of Conor McGregor’s camp, Mlambo sparred Conor ahead of his fight with Mayweather. It was an amazing opportunity and experience but he said there were pros and cons to being part of such an event.

“You can be in the background of major events but that only lasts so long. Do you know any of the training partners from the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight? That’s not a thing which people think about. It feels great being around it and there’s little perks to it but this is the fight game. It’s a solitary thing.

“Personally, and career-wise it doesn’t do much for you. For example, I won my first fight and thought I was lethal. I was training with the best fighter in the world and felt nobody was going to touch me. But, I started taking everybody else for granted.

“My second pro fight was in Tokyo. I faced a guy who had been in the Ultimate Fighter China and he was a good guy. Two weeks before I went I couldn’t train, I was in agony and sick. I said that it didn’t matter how I felt, I was just going to go in there and destroy that guy, I’m after sparring Conor McGregor.

“I went there and it did not go to plan. The second I stepped inside the ring my body did not want to react to anything. So, being in these types of camps have their pros and cons. You need to know what to take out and what to leave in,” said Mlambo.

Check out the full interview on the Obviously Fight Talk YouTube channel below:

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MMA
Alastair Magee

Recent Journalism graduate with a passion for covering martial arts. Giving amateur and professional fighters in Ireland the coverage they deserve.

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