During this MMA hiatus, we’ve taken to scouting the globe and selecting five top prospects from each major player in the sport, in terms of countries. In this edition, we take a look at some of the top fighting prospects coming out of France. The nation has been in the spotlight of late due to MMA just recently being legalized there. Some of the more well-known fighters from France are Ciryl Gane, Cheick Kongo, Cyrille Diabate, Nordine Taleb, Tom Duquesnoy, and Taylor Lapilus.
Flyweight, Samir Faiddine (11-6)
Just a few years ago Samir Faiddine was a top prospect, but starting in 2017 he would lose three fights in a row. When it seemed like Faiddine was too far down the rabbit hole, just last June he won the Cage Warriors vacant flyweight title. Faiddine is well-rounded as he throws a good variety of strikes on the feet. He has solid footwork and his wrestling is very powerful. His defense all around is good too with solid takedown defense and good movement from the feet to his transitions on the mat.
Featherweight, Salahdine Parnasse (14-0-1)
Salahdine Parnasse would prefer to keep the fight on the feet where he can use his effective movement and his strong kickboxing base. On the feet, he does a good job at moving in and out and really loves to attack with leg kicks, which really set up his strikes well. One of his best attributes is his cardio, as he can fight at the same pace for three to five rounds. Before signing with KSW, the best record Salahdine beat was 14-8. Now in his five KSW bouts, he’s fought a combined record of 85-25. In April of last year, Parnasse beat Roman Szymański to become the interim KSW featherweight champion. Last December he beat the well-known Ivan Buchinger to retain that title.
Welterweight, Nassourdine Imavov (8-2)
Nassourdine Imavov is quietly on a five-fight win streak with wins in various promotions. In his latest fight, he had a huge step-up in competition against former UFC fighter Jonathan Meunier. Imavov pieced him apart in a flawless first-round finish. He’s indeed a sniper of a striker with a sick one-two along with a check left hand. He’s a good counter striker as well and a very accurate one at that.
Welterweight, Mansour Barnaoui (19-4)
Mansour Barnaoui has fought for the likes of M-1 Challenge, KSW, and BAMMA. Barnaoui was actually the BAMMA and the M-1 lightweight champion at a time. He is a current staple of Road FC, a promotion out of South Korea, and is their current champion. His record speaks for itself fighting excellent competition, and he has a stunning 18 finishes out of his 19 wins. On the feet, Barnaoui is a solid clinch fighter with good Muay Thai. He is also good at range with long strikes and explosiveness. Barnaoui is an even better grappler who thrives with his BJJ. He extraordinarily dangerous once on your back with ten of his submission wins via rear-naked choke.
Lightweight, Mehdi Ben Lakhdhar (4-0-1)
Mehdi Ben Lakhdhar may only have five professional bouts but he has three fights in Cage Warriors, and all three were memorable performances. Lakhdhar is a Muay Thai fighter with all-around skills on the feet. He’s good at picking his shots, flipping the jab and firing uppercuts with just a nice flow to his output. His takedown defense does need some improvement but has already shown some, developing rather quickly.