Losene Keita: From Prison to Professional Fighter, with UFC Now In His Sights

Losene Keita, Oktagon MMA
Losene Keita Credit: Oktagon MMA

Losene Keita went from being caged, to fighting in the cage.

Earlier this month, Guinea’s Keita (9-0) captured the Oktagon MMA lightweight championship, knocking out Ivan Buchinger in three minutes to seal the deal. As Keita pointed out in an exclusive interview with Cageside Press, he got the job done faster than Conor McGregor — one of veteran Buchinger’s old foes.

“I think now this performance can get me to the door [of the UFC],” Keita told us. “Nobody did before, what I did to Ivan. Even Conor McGregor didn’t do that to Ivan. I did it faster than Conor McGregor.”

With a reputable regional title in hand, Keita now hopes the UFC comes calling. If they don’t, there’s the possibility of challenging for Buchinger’s other Oktagon MMA title, at featherweight.

Either way, big things are ahead. But the picture wasn’t always so rosy for Losene Keita.

In his teens, Keita found himself in plenty of trouble. “I was living in a bad area,” said the man known as “Black Panther,” who trains in and fights out of Belgium. There were plenty of tough guys in the neighborhood that thought they could fight, Keita explained, and “I wanted to prove to myself that I could fight, so yeah, I was fighting with guys like that— just to prove myself, to be honest.”

That landed him in hot water with the police. “They put me in prison for stupid stuff, like I was fighting on the street a lot.”

By the time he was 18, Keita knew he had to turn things around. “I saw my mother crying; she went to the jail to be with me. That was it for me, I said ‘that’s enough now.'” Fresh out of prison, the future Oktagon MMA champ wound up trying his hand at MMA, after a friend saw him fight, and recognized the potential in him.

“Why not come to my gym and start training?” the friend, not particularly close with Keita at the time, suggested.

Keita was hesitant. “At first I didn’t want to, because in our family, nobody fights. Everybody was playing football, basketball, things like that.” But ultimately he gave it a shot. “I said, ‘yeah why not?’ So I went to my first training, I liked it very much.”

That led to Keita training two times a week, while still playing football as well. “After two months of training MMA, I got my first amateur fight, and it went very good.”

From there, Keita hasn’t looked back. And while he’s been getting the job done with his hands lately, there’s no one love for Keita when it comes to the various disciplines of mixed martial arts.

“I don’t care about striking, grappling; I want to be the best in everything,” Keita exclaimed. “I’m African, a lot of Africans love to wrestle, like in the street, we were always wrestling in the street, we didn’t even know what fighting was. I like to wrestle, but I just like to win, you know?”

Through nine professional fights now, winning is all Losene Keita has done. “I like to say to my friends, ‘just focus on winning, and everything will come along.’ For me, it was like that.”

Now, he’s looking ahead to the potential of a UFC call-up. That’s always been the goal, Keita told us.

“For me, every fight’s a dream about UFC. If the UFC calls me now, I’m packing my things now. For me, it’s always the UFC. Bellator is also good, but the first place is always the UFC.”