Great week for MMA fans in France, with two particularly anticipated clashes. This Thursday, March 7, it is the fight between Cédric Doumbè and Baysangur Chamsoudinov, alias “Baki”, which opens the ball at the Accor Arena in Paris-Bercy. On the night of Saturday March 9 to Sunday March 10, it’s time for the other Frenchman in sight, Benoît Saint Denis. The “God of War” challenges the American Dustin Poirier in Miami.

Will Doumbè and Saint Denis, the two darlings of French MMA, be able to face each other one day? Nothing is ever impossible, but significant material constraints would have to be overcome. The two men do not fight in the same category (lightweight for Saint Denis, welterweight for Doumbè), nor in the same league (UFC and PFL respectively).

Mixed martial arts, or MMA, fighters group together within organizations intended to supervise and promote fights. These leagues hold events throughout the year, usually in the evenings. The format is close to that of boxing. Each evening offers a card of several fights, with one or more headliners. Sometimes championship belts are at stake. There is a champion for each weight category.

The largest league is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), based in the United States. It is to her that we owe the advent of modern MMA with the organization of its first tournament in 1993 in Denver. The UFC is home to the discipline’s global stars, including the Irishman Conor McGregor, the Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov, the Canadian Georges St-Pierre and the Brazilian Anderson Silva. It is in this league that Benoît Saint Denis (28 years old) has been playing since 2021, for a record of five victories in six fights, but also Cyril Gane (33 years old) since 2019 with nine victories in eleven fights. Niçoise Manon Fiorot (34 years old) has also been fighting in the UFC since 2021 and has won her six fights.

After the UFC, the other important American league is Bellator, created in 2008. Several French fighters play in this league, including Davy Gallon (34 years old), Mansour Barnaoui (31 years old), Lucie Bertaud (39 years old) and Yves Landu (37 years old).

An increasingly serious competitor to the UFC, the Professional Fighters League (PFL) is the league on the rise. Founded in 2017 in the United States, it bought Bellator at the end of 2023. It had previously struck a major blow in May by poaching world star Francis Ngannou (37), at the time UFC heavyweight champion . By combining the number of fighters from the PFL and Bellator, the new entity now has a field equivalent to that of the UFC. His other feat is to have succeeded in attracting the Franco-Cameroonian Cédric Doumbè (31 years old), former great kick-boxing champion. The fight against “Baki” this Thursday, March 7 will be his second in the PFL after the one won in nine seconds against Jordan Zebo on October 1.

So much for the top level on a global scale. Famous leagues in Europe or elsewhere include Cage Warriors in England, KSW in Poland and ONE Championship in Singapore. In France, it is the ARES Fighting Championship which wins, ahead of Hexagone MMA.