Having defeated Curt Warburton at BAMMA 13 for the BAMMA World Lightweight title, the new champion immediately called out Colin 'Freakshow' Fletcher. BAMMA 14 sees Fletcher take on Barnaoui in his first title challenge. We caught up with Mansour to find out a bit more about the BAMMA Lighweight champ.
Where did you grow up? When did you come to Paris or were you born there?
I was born in Tunisia and when I was only 15 days old we immigrated to France. Since then I have lived and grown up in the suburbs of Paris.
What was it like growing up?
I am from a family of 4 children with 4 brothers. Even if we live modestly in the Parisian "banlieu", my childhood was pretty nice compared to poor people living in poor countries like Africa. At school I was pretty cool and I enjoyed playing with my friends and also playing sport.
Did you compete in any sports before MMA?
No I didn't. The only sport I have competed in is MMA.
What got you into MMA?
I got into this sport through my friends from around my neighbourhood in our ghetto. I saw them training in the sport so one day I followed them and since then I haven't stopped and I think I will never stop.
Tell us about your first fight. What stands out most?
Pretty soon at 16 years old I entered my first fight against a much more experienced guy than me,and I beat him easily. This fight hasn't been registered yet on Sherdog. After that I was hungry for fights and in a hurry to do it again. In Paris there was an 8-man tournament where the toughest rookies get to prove themselves. I really wanted to test myself out there and despite my young age the promoter finally allowed me to enter the Lightweight tournament. I had 3 fights in one night and won all of them by Submission. I did this when I was only 18 years old, and this is how I became an MMA fighter.
Are you a full time fighter or what are your other responsibilities? Describe a typical day
Actually I am not a full time fighter. I usually train 4 times a week for 2 hours at a time. Skateboarding is another of my passions and I might skateboard much more than I train in fighting...lol. Sometimes I work some jobs to earn some money for my family and me, besides the purses I earn from my fights
What is the status of MMA in France?How easy is it to train and compete in MMA in France?
MMA in its form that the world knows it is illegal in France. I mean that the cage is forbidden and GnP to the head is not allowed either. There is instead a kind of MMA that mixes martial arts techniques and in which all Pro fighters can express themselves; and it has a legal status under the name of Pancrase or Kenpo. The rules are similar to some of the MMA promotions in Japan where in which Fedor, Henderson and Nogueira fought in. Despite that, there are a lot of fight clubs and a lot of talented fighters in France and of course a lot of huge fans of this sport. It is well known that France is a land of warriors, so we are not afraid of fighting abroad to build an international career in real MMA. That is why I trust my Team Magnum and my manager Razi to lead me on this path.
What was it like to compete on BAMMA? Did you expect to win so fast?
It was a complete honour and pleasure for me to fight on one of the best MMA shows in the world, and above all to compete for a world title belt. I was hoping to win quickly, this what I dreamt of, to shock the world by defeating one of the best fighters in the way that I chose. But a fight is a fight and I could have been defeated. However, you have to know that I always give my best in the fight. That is why I often finish my fights before the time limit.
You called out Fletcher after your fight. Why do you want Fletcher?
I called out Colin Fletcher because I was hearing that he had a great fight before mine and that he might be expected to be a contender for the title belt. I always love tough challenges and my goal is to be beating the best. It is not common to see a champion calling out a challenger, so he should be happy that I gave him a chance to fight the champion.
What can fans expect from the fight?
Fans have to know that the fight will be epic and great. The Freakshow should already regret what he's said about me because the fight won't be that easy for him, that is for sure!
Finally, what are your goals for the next year?
My goal is to beat the best of the best in this sport, step by step conquering the heart of UK fans too and then fighting others, tough fighters from USA, Japan and around the world.That would be great for me, coming from the ghetto to achieve an international fight career of this kind.
Mansour Barnaoui defends his Lightweight Title against Colin "Freakshow" Fletcher on December 14th in the LG Arena Birmingham at BAMMA 14. You can purchase your tickets HERE