After the emergence of Alain Ngalani and UFC superstar Francis Ngannou, Cameroon is officially on the MMA map. The newest star to come out of the Central African country is none other than Cameroonian-Italian fighter Simon “Hemle” Biyong. Simon is a 6’6 Light Heavyweight with a 74-inch reach and currently ranked the 84th best LHW in the world (Tapology.com). His physique makes him stand out in the average crowd as his 205 pounds come from pure muscle. Do not be fooled though as his physical attributes are just a small part of the list of reasons that set him apart from the rest.
He struggled as a child to make friends after moving to Genova, which ultimately led to his misadventures in both Football and Basketball. In need of purpose, Biyong found himself training in Genova Italy at X1 Boxing Genova. Since finding X1 Boxing, Biyong’s MMA career track has progressed faster than anyone could have imagined.
After only one amateur win (1st Round by Punches), Biyong went Pro in 2017. He rattled off 3 straight wins in 9 months as he continued to gain confidence in his fighting skills. His combination of footwork and pure power made him look unstoppable, but one incredible aspect of MMA is that the sport always finds a way to humble you.
Reality hit Simon on June 30th against Ernesto Papa (8-2). Papa taught him an unforgettable lesson about giving up your back as he managed to finish Biyong in the 54th second of the 1st round by Rear Naked Choke. After his first MMA loss, Biyong took 8 months off to work on his flaws and make sure he was ready for anyone that could be put in front of him.
Most regional MMA scouts probably began to worry about Biyong after his first loss. We have seen in the past mental effects from losing your first fight can be worse than any physical effects. The only difference is some fighters are true warriors that will do whatever it takes to be a champion. Simon Biyong is one of those fighters; he continued to work hard and improve until everything changed for him in 2019.
He came into 2019 with his first fight scheduled for February 3rd. The early start gave him the chance to make the most of the year if all went well with his fights. His cardio was tested early as his first fight of the year against Fabio Russo went to the 4th round before Biyong finished him with Punches (1:57). This would end up being the only time he would have to go past the 2nd round as his next 3 fights totaled 15:14. He proved his dedication to the sport after winning all 4 of his fights in 2019. Big wins in the MMA promotions EFC and Rizin started to bring a lot of interest to the true potential he has. The question of Simon Biyong changed from “Will he be in the UFC one day?” to “How many more wins till he gets the call?”.
- What is Holding Him Back?
The only thing stopping Simon Biyong is issues outside of his control. Travel and Visa issues arose from the global pandemic that made it impossible for most MMA promotions to make fights. Biyong was left without any fights going into the 10th month of 2020.
Most fighters that have been negatively affected by the virus have lost the opportunity to fight once or twice this year, but Biyong is unlike most fighters. He was able to finish all 4 of his fights in 2019 with little damage to himself. Raising the question of how many potential fights he missed out on. His 2019 run included competition that continued to rise as he went from MMA Promotions Slam FC to NOVA FC to EFC to RIZIN. His potential is still unknown as he continues to dominate the rising competition he faces. By the time 2019 ended, it seemed like the only thing that could stop him was a global pandemic.
The long layoff ended up being positive as it gave him the time to work on his flaws and make sure he was ready for the next level of competition. Good news finally came for Biyong as 10 months after his last fight he has been scheduled to fight on October 10th at Bellator 248.
After 10 months off due to the Coronavirus, Simon Biyong will return to the Octagon on October 10th at Bellator 248. His promotional debut will be against 44-year-old longtime brawler Melvin Manhoef (32-14-1).
It is fair to say his best days are behind him, but Manhoef has won two straight Bellator fights as he continues to deny Father Time. His kickboxing background mixes well with his killer instinct that has led to 23 Pro MMA wins by KO/TKO. He now holds an important role for Bellator as “gatekeeper”; in which he provides a true test for surging prospects like Biyong.
This is a huge opportunity for Biyong as not only is this a tough opponent, but a large amount of attention on Bellator 248 (first major MMA event in Paris) could skyrocket his career and make up for his time lost during the pandemic. A win would open up a wide array of possibilities including a long-term Bellator contract or a fight on the Dana White’s Contender series. There are still plenty of things I do not know about Simon Biyong, but one thing I do know is he will be in the UFC sooner rather than later.