Muay Thai star Fabrice Fairtex Delannon has plied his trade across the globe in his bid to become the best, and that journey will pass through ONE Championship on Saturday, 23 June.
Delannon will face two-weight Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai World Champion Petchmorrakot Wor. Sangprapai in a ONE Super Series Muay Thai bout at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau.
The French-Guyanese striker will be looking to claim one of the biggest scalps of his career as he bids to make an impact and add more honours to the three MAX Muay Thai World Championships already in his trophy cabinet.
Delannon was born and raised in French Guiana, before moving to Paris, France, with his mother and sister, where he initially struggled to deal with the cosmopolitan Parisian culture.
However, he adapted, and ended up with a group of friends from a variety of different backgrounds.
“I had all types of friends – poor friends, rich friends, friends from bad neighbourhoods and good neighbourhoods,” he says.
“There was everything – all types of influences on me.”
Things could have been tricky for Delannon, with the family moving back and forth between Guiana and Paris, but he took it all in his stride.
He was a good student at school, but his passion was away from his books. He wanted to compete.
He started boxing training as a 12-year-old, inspired by his heroes Roy Jones Jr and Mike Tyson. When he made his competitive debut, he was only 14, and it came in front of a huge crowd.
“It was in [French] Guiana, in front of two or three thousand people,” he recalls.
“I faced a guy much bigger than me. I finished with a draw, but everybody told me, ‘Wow, you had a great contest with him.’
“I was happy. To have the support of my team, my friends, and my neighbourhood – that was good.”
Health issues curtailed his boxing career and, while he tried other sports, he could not replace the sensation of competing against another athlete in hand-to-hand combat.
But that all changed when, aged 22, he discovered Muay Thai and threw himself into learning the “art of eight limbs”. He had found his new passion, and it is one he continued to pursue today.
“Since I was young, I always loved martial arts. It excited me,” he explains.
“I always dreamed about going to Asia and practising, like the warriors I admired in my head.”
He chased that dream, as he moved to Thailand in 2007 and spent two years there perfecting his art. He returned in 2013 and now trains out of Pattaya’s Fairtex Gym.
Hopes were high for a stellar career, but Delannon had to deal with more health issues that threatened to hold him back.
“I had a very bad respiratory problem – an infection in my lung, and a problem with my stomach, too,” he says.
“Despite all that, I took some fights when I was literally sick. The doctor told me I was crazy to fight through it.
“I suffered in the ring and pushed my limits. There was a time in the final of the French Championships where I had one or two breaths, max, and I was just happy to survive. It was impossible to breathe, but I made it to the end.”
Delannon’s ability to battle through adversity and his determination to succeed has taken him through more than 60 professional bouts.
He believes he could have topped 100 by now, and perhaps would have had a better win-loss ratio, had he not had to deal with his health issues.
“I am not a bad loser. If I lose, I am happy to take it, but now I know I should not have taken those bouts, for sure,” he says.
He has shown his quality throughout his career, picking up three MAX Muay Thai World Titles in two different weight classes.
And now he is looking to prove his worth as one of the best strikers on the planet with success in the ONE Super Series.
“I left everything to live my dream. I am living it, and I am happy,” he says.
“Now I just want to take on the top fighters in the world in ONE Championship and do my best.”
Paired with Petchmorrakot in his ONE Super Series debut, Delannon says he is ready to make a statement with a spectacular victory.
“I will knock him out and win the fight,” he says.
“It will take me one step closer to becoming the ONE World Champion.”