Frans Mlambo can become the first-ever PFL Europe champion in the country that took him in as a child.
The MMA star hails from South Africa but moved to Ireland when he was 11 years old and over 20 years later, Mlambo has the opportunity to create history at the 3Arena in Dublin.
Mlambo (15-5) takes on Khurshed Kakhorov in the PFL Europe Bantamweight final on Friday (December 8) and a win for the 32-year-old will see him become the first-ever PFL Europe champion. A payday of $100,000 (£79,000) and a spot in the million-dollar tournament awaits him should he leave with a victory.
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Like many combat sport athletes, Mlambo has a nickname but what makes him different is that he has two with both as brilliant as each other. Known as both the 'Zulu Irishman' and the 'Black Mamba', he stunningly revealed in an exclusive interview with Daily Star Sport that he never wanted a nickname when he first ventured into MMA.
"When I first got into MMA, I wasn't interested in any nicknames, I felt my name sounds cool as it is so I thought Frans Mlambo would keep me going forever," he admitted.
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"I had this amateur fight where I performed well, to say the very least, crushed this guy and then John Kavanagh and Artem Lobov were in my corner. When I came out, they were like 'you are the Black Mamba' whether you like it or not, that's your nickname and it's just flowed.
"A few years later, I visited South Africa and I was doing an interview with Alistair Bishop and he coined me the 'Zulu Irishman' and that also had a nice ring to it as well so I took that on too. For a guy that didn't want any nicknames, I've got two and they suit me good enough."
Mlambo – who is a long-time training partner of Conor McGregor – has the fighting ability and the catchy nicknames to be a star in any country but it's South Africa and Ireland that hold a special place in his heart.
"I love the fact I'm South African and anytime I'm going around Ireland and I hear a South African accent, it's like a kiss to my heart, but at the same time, I've adapted to Ireland, its taken me on, I sound [Irish], I play both, " he said.
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The PFL Europe finalist now has the opportunity to do both nations proud but opened up about the difficulty on not looking too far ahead into his career. "I've done it before in my past and it's just set me up for hurt, when I first signed with the PFL, I was 100% under the pressure that the million-dollar tournament was next year, this was guaranteed to me nearly.
"But when I found out recently that it's actually in 2025, it hurts and I feel like that's something that didn't need to happen. For now, I train myself not to do that and I'm going to take care of this fight first and whatever opportunities present themselves, we'll take them."
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