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Cedric Doumbe: Kickboxing champion on UFC heartbreak and ambition to become PFL champion

Just over 12 months ago, Cedric Doumbe was preparing to make his UFC debut on home soil in Paris, France but he was cut from the roster just weeks before the event.

"I was very sad," Doumbe tells BBC Sport.

"I really wanted to make my UFC debut in France."

Doumbe was scheduled to be facing Darian Weeks at Accor Arena on the Ciryl Gane v Tai Tuivasa undercard in what would have been just his third fight in mixed martial arts.

His arrival on the MMA scene came with a lot of hype after a stellar kickboxing career - Doumbe is widely regarded as one of the greatest welterweights of all time and was a two-time Glory champion at 170lbs.

The 31-year-old's two spells as champion spanned over a combined three years and he retired from kickboxing on a high with a successful defence to take his overall record to 75 wins, seven defeats and one draw.

The Frenchman's MMA career started as expected with knockout victories - beating Arbi Emiev and Phruethukorn Chaichongcharden - and the UFC came calling.

However, just weeks before the event in the French capital, Doumbe was pulled from the card and subsequently released without making his debut after the French MMA Federation refused to sanction the bout.

The commissions' rules state that fighters with less than 10 professional bouts - Doumbe had only competed twice - must not have more than a four-fight differential with and opponent - Weeks had seven fights on his record.

Doumbe has recorded a further two wins in the meantime, fighting on the domestic scene in France, and signed for the Professional Fighters League in May.

He was due to make his PFL debut on 23 June against Jarrah Al-Silawi in Atlanta in the USA, but a wrist injury forced Doumbe to pull out.

Fully recovered, he finally gets the opportunity to make his PFL debut at Zenith in Paris on Saturday and has been paired with undefeated compatriot Jordan Zebo.

"Everything happens for a reason," says Doumbe.

"I really wanted to be part of that [UFC card] but it is what it is. Now I can make my debut with the PFL, it's way better for me.

"Making that first fight in a PFL main event in Paris is just amazing.

"PFL is the future for me and it's the future for every single MMA fighter. It's the future of combat sports."

Doumbe was born in Cameroon and moved to France at the age of nine with his mother and sister. He admits life was tough for his mum but, as a child, he was excited to embark on a new journey.

"I was happy because I was young. When you are young you just need your mum, food, friends and you are happy," Doumbe says.

"For my mum it was very difficult alone with two children in France - a new country, new people, new work."

A career in MMA was always on Doumbe's mind but he opted for kickboxing and says it "came very fast" as he won his first title just two fights after turning professional.

American Rick Roufus - a former kickboxer, boxer and MMA fighter - was someone Doumbe admired as a youngster but, more recently, he has taken inspiration from UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and former champion Alex Pereira, who also come from a kickboxing background and were part of the Glory roster before transitioning into MMA.

Doumbe believes he possesses the best traits from each of those current UFC fighters - boasting the "skills of Adesanya" and the "power of Pereira" and is hoping to better their achievements.

Pereira lost his Glory title before transitioning to MMA, whereas, Doumbe left the sport with his champion status intact.

Doumbe says: "I want to make history. I want to be the first one to have belts in MMA and kickboxing.

"Alex Pereira did it, but he didn't hold both at the same time. No one could take my kickboxing belt and I want to be the same in MMA."