French cage fighter plans to ‘smash’ S’pore-based rival

(ONE FC Photo)
(ONE FC Photo)

Thumping electronic music. Thick, billowing smoke. Thousands of screaming spectators. Clad in chains and a menacing mask, Arnaud Lepont swaggers into the arena.

The French mixed martial artist (MMA) loves a colourful entrance – even if it has fans wondering if they are watching the World Wresting Entertainment instead. After all, Lepont’s nickname is “The Game”, like famed wrestler Triple H.

The two have met, Lepont told Yahoo! Singapore over the phone from Malaysia, where he is now based. “Triple H helped me realise that you can be someone in your private life and someone else in the cage.”

It is a mindset that the 33-year-old has clearly adopted. Today, Arnaud Lepont, showboating brawler, and Arnaud Lepont, family man, are two pieces of the same puzzle.

The reasons for Lepont’s fight night theatrics are less mysterious. "In modern MMA, you have to also be an entertainer. You cannot just be a good fighter. You have to be both."

If that means doing "something stupid", Lepont is, well, game. Never mind the detractors, he said. "At least I respect the guy who paid 70 bucks to see two men beating each other in a cage."

We spoke to Lepont about his upcoming ONE Fighting Championship lightweight bout with Eddie Ng, and the conversation took a serious turn.

Lepont praised his opponent – “a good guy and a strong contender” – but was less convinced about a shoulder tear suffered by Singapore-based Ng last year, which led to the latter pulling out of a scheduled fight between the two. “Whatever he says about his injury, I think he took a year off to improve his skills,” the 1.78m-tall Frenchman said.

Lepont also signaled his intentions.

“I’m not planning to let him win this fight. I’m planning to f**king smash his face for 15 minutes.”

We asked Lepont for his thoughts on Ng’s publicised history of racial abuse. “I’m sorry, I was the opposite,” he laughed. “I was the bully.”

All this trash-talking is, of course, calculated. Lepont has no qualms playing the villain – as long as it “pumps up the fight and sells tickets.” At the end of the day, Lepont reminded us, “entertainment is his job”.

Family guy

(ONE FC Photo)
(ONE FC Photo)

Arnaud Lepont believes he has the “best job in the world”, but his wife won’t quickly agree.

“She supports me because I’m living my dream. She’s happy to see me happy,” said Lepont. “But she’s always worried I’ll take a bad beating… that sooner or later I’ll get caught in a bad position.”

“Every fight… it’s not good to be my wife,” he concluded ruefully.

Then there’s his son, whose tender age has forced Lepont to lie about training injuries. “I don’t want to scare him. He doesn’t understand when Daddy comes home with his face swollen because his friend tried to send him a flying knee,” he said.

But family is also what keeps Lepont going – because all he wants is to give his wife and son “a better life”. What life does he see Lepont Jr. leading?

“Before fighting, I spent a lot of time in university. Studying is valuable, something you keep your whole life… l hope my son will be able to study and get a desk job!” he laughed.

Yet, a desk job is exactly what Lepont walked away from. He was a bank accountant in his native France before a falling-out with his manager led to a moment of realisation. “My mind was in the office but my heart was in the cage,” he said. “So one day, I decided to choose my passion.”

Should his son tread the same path, Lepont promises – reluctantly – to “be by his side and support him.” “I will try to make him understand that it’s not the best job in the world!” Lepont joked. “You get a lot of injuries, a lot of haters...”

Sure enough, one look at Lepont’s Facebook profile finds reference to the “haters” and “keyboard warriors”. But an odd post catches the eye: “…will visit an orphanage close to my family house to drop some clothes and sweets and in the evening”.

When we pressed Lepont to tell more, he said, “There're a lot of children without family, and no father…I have enough to support my family, if sometimes I can help these kids and give them a little bit of what I have, it’s the least I can do.”

(ONE FC Photo)
(ONE FC Photo)

Back in the arena, it's business as usual. Arnaud Lepont is locked in mortal combat, trading swings, uppercuts and takedowns with the enemy. After an aggressive first round, he kicks off the next – with a hug for his opponent.

It is in moments like these where Lepont's private life bleeds into the cage: where fighter, entertainer, husband and father become one enigma, brought together by a truly big heart.

Read Eddie Ng's story here.

ONE FC: Kings & Champions will also be broadcast live on Star Sports Asia and livestreamed at

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