“There are no more crazy stories than those of Francis Ngannou,” said Gooden. “His story will not be repeated. It is simply amazing. So, as much as I loved the success of Stipe, you just can’t help but be so happy for Francis. This victory represents so much and for so many people now too. It’s a whole new audience, if you will. The first champion of Cameroon, your third of Africa, we are witnessing within our generation the dissemination of UFC titles around the world. It’s wonderful to see how the mixed martial arts are spreading as they are. But to have someone who was looking for a better life in Cameroon, and this trip, for the time it took, was a long trip even to get to Europe, and then live on the streets. I went to the soup kitchen where he served. Then Fernand Lopez, his gym was a few doors down from the soup kitchen, and they welcomed him. It almost made me cry, knowing what he had been through, the effects it had on him as a man, being alone for so long, and to see now that he has reached the top is a film, and it’s not over yet. I am very happy for him.
Having been in the business for as long as he is, Gooden knows that fighters become stars when fans embrace their story and have an emotional attachment to them. And when the UFC recently signed Liverpool star Paddy Pimblett, Gooden is confident that “Paddy the Baddy” will have a huge impact on the sport’s biggest scene.
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“There are young kids in Liverpool going to barbers and asking for the ‘Paddy the Baddy’ haircut,” he laughs. “But that’s the impact he’s having. He’s outspoken, he’s seemingly unpretentious, but the guy has a very dynamic submission game, he’s swagger, he has epic walkouts, and he has a legion of fans. He’s another Liverpool guy and we’ve already tasted what it is with Darren Till. This is the second coming of this wave of Liverpool kids, and they’re making them tough there. He is ambitious, he will talk, and despite his appearance, you will see that when he gets closer to the cage, he will start looking at his opponent and he will not take his eyes off his opponent. He’s laser-focused on them and he has bad intentions.
Looks like someone to watch, and although he’s been on the UFC radar for some time now, following his March 20 submission from Davide Martinez, the 26-year-old is ready to tackle the elite of the Octagon.
“His last fight he had at Cage Warriors, for me he cleaned up his boxing a lot, and his hands look really deadly right now,” Gooden said. “Typically he’s known for his submissive finishes, like flying triangles and stuff like that. He was a young man who has been offered a UFC contract twice before, and he went through a lot during his younger years in the sport with injuries and setbacks, so he’s been through it all and I don’t think so. that there is better. Now is the time for him to make his run for those UFC rankings.
The excitement in Gooden’s voice is evident as the subject fights, and he can’t wait for everything to return to semblance of normal around the world. Fortunately, there has been some fighting but many places are still suffering behind bars, with UK MMA gyms particularly affected. It’s no surprise, then, that Gooden is taking matters into his own hands with the “Keeping The Lights On” fundraiser that will raise funds to help struggling gyms stay afloat.