Cedric Doumbe is many things: a two-time GLORY welterweight champion, A1 World Grand Prix tournament winner, WAKO middleweight champion — in kickboxing, the Cameroonian-born French star has hit the highest highs.
Now he has a new sport to conquer. Doumbe calls himself a “man of impossible,” one who does seemingly impossible things while looking for new challenges. The latest is his crossover to MMA, which Doumbe told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview was inspired in part by Conor McGregor.
“I cannot lie. When I saw Conor McGregor putting MMA at that level, I’m like ‘I can do it too. I’m better than him,” Doumbe recalled, just over a month out from his PFL debut. “I knew that I was better than him and I knew that I could do better things than he does. So that’s why I say ‘okay, I’m going.”
Admittedly, his time in the kickboxing world had grown stale.
“Kickboxing is boring for me now. I’ve won everything in kickboxing. It’s always the same opponent, no challenge anymore, so I wanted a change, to step up. And then I started to like watching MMA, watching BJJ, grappling, wrestling and then I started to train. And then I was like ‘okay that’s a new challenge. I will prove that I will do it, I will prove that I’m the best in MMA.'”
Self-belief is something Doumbe clearly has in spades. “I’m the best fighter, not only the best kickboxer on the planet, also the best fighter,” said Doumbe — who knows he has to not just say it, but prove it. “It’s all about proof. It’s all about to prove to people that I’m the best, and back it up.”
Starting his career 4-0 on the regional scene, Cedric Doumbe had intended to prove himself in the UFC, signing with the promotion last year. He was booked for a fight with Darian Weeks at UFC Paris in early September, an event Cageside Press was on hand for. Shortly before the arrival of the UFC’s debut in France, however, Doumbe was pulled from the card — with the local athletic commission ruling he did not have enough experience to compete.
In mixed martial arts, that may have been true. Taking into account his kickboxing record, however, Doumbe was the vastly more experienced fighter in comparison to Weeks.
Calling the situation “really tough for me, psychologically,” Doumbe noted that he still attended UFC Paris — in the audience. “I was very sad, watching those fighters performing in front of my eyes. And I was very, just distracted, because I really wanted to fight, I wanted to perform in front of the French audience, in front of my people. But it is what it is.”
As for the snafu with the commission, “that rule, it’s very weird. As you say, regarding my kickboxing experience, my fight experience, that’s very insane,” he added. There is a silver lining, at least: the commission (the French Mixed Martial Arts Federation, who sanctioned UFC Paris) is looking at revising the rule. “That rule is to protect fighters. The commission is still smart, they are changing the rule, because of my case they are changing that, and now it’s going to be better. But for now the rule stays.”
If the PFL were to book a Paris card tomorrow, Doumbe pointed out, “I can’t fight.”
Many expected Doumbe to simply stay on with the UFC and fight at a later date. His release, and eventual signing with the PFL, came as something of a surprise.
“After that journey we went back to negotiations with UFC, and then ONE FC came, and then Bellator, and then PFL came on the table. PFL offered me a way better contract,” Doumbe revealed. After taking time to think about it, said Doumbe, “my team and me figured out that PFL is the best choice.”
Doumbe previously stated his PFL offer was 10 times that of the UFC, though he clarified it’s 10 times more than the basic UFC deal. The UFC did offer him better than the average entry level contract — though Doumbe noted he’s still making five times what the UFC ultimately offered him fighting for the PFL.
Now, the kickboxing champ enters the PFL season late, knowing he needs a finish to make the welterweight playoffs. “So I have to swing between looking for the knockout and doing my best, doing my job. Because when I do my job very well, the knockout comes, just easy.” That, Doumbe would go on to say, is “a very strange feeling.”
At PFL 6, Cedric Doumbe meets Jarrah Al-Silawi, a fighter he calls “a big challenge.”
“Jarrah is a very good opponent. He’s the best I have faced since the last one. With all due respect to my last opponents, but Jarrah is better than them. Way better than them. A lot of experience. And he’s angry, because he just lost two times.”
But remember, Doumbe is a “man of impossible.” “I love to prove that I can do it. So yes, I’m aware that he’s a big challenge, a big fighter, and he has way more experience than me. I’m aware of that, but I will beat him. Because I’m the best.”
Watch our full interview with Cedric Doumbe above. Doumbe makes his promotional debut at PFL 6 on June 23, 2023.