Francois Ambang was born in Cameroon but moved to Virginia five years ago in search of a better life for his family. He is now an adopted Virginian and a part of the community in Mechanicsville, VA where he resides. The crowd greeted him as their own when he entered the arena to face debuting Michael Stevens, also fighting under the US flag.
Ambang holds the odd distinction of having alternated wins and losses for his entire run in GLORY. Statistically that made him due for a win here in Virginia tonight and the presence of friends and family in the audience only added to that. Ambang is also incredibly hungry for success and wants to make a run in the welterweight division; he was unlucky to lose the decision in his last outing.
This all combined to make Ambang about as motivated and focused as he has ever been for a fight. He entered the ring with high energy and started the fight the same way, going after Stevens immediately with hard punches followed by low kicks. From the outset it was clear that he would not be trying to go the distance.
Stevens comes from a Muay Thai background and like many fighters from that discipline he found the fast pace of kickboxing rules required him to adjust. Muay Thai fights start slower than kickboxing matches; Ambang was all over him at a speed that you wouldn't normally encounter in a Muay Thai fight.
Ambang's right hand was the driving force in this fight. Stevens' kicking game is stronger than his boxing; he was dropping his hands when bringing his punches back and Ambang was taking advantage with hard counter shots.
He was able to rock Stevens repeatedly over the course of the fight but Stevens' sheer toughness kept him on his feet; he just refused to go down no matter what he was caught with. As Ambang piled the pressure on and looked to capitalize, he started burning into his gas tank. That allowed Stevens to turn the tables halfway into the third round and, incredibly, score a knockdown just ten seconds from the end.
Had it happened earlier in the round it would have blown the fight wide open but there wasn't enough time left for Stevens to press home his advantage. The seconds ticked away and so did his chance. Ambang made it to the final bell, the sound of which announced his entry to the winner's circle.