MONTREAL -- Francis Carmont is a 2013 sleeper. Not many people are talking too loudly about him, but the hulking 185-pound Frenchman has that sense of pending noise -- sort of like a French Glover Teixeira. After all, here’s another fighter in his 30s who’s suddenly coming into his own on the world’s biggest stage.
Here is a big-time hunch contender in the UFC’s middleweight division.
And if Carmont gets by Tom Lawlor on Saturday night at UFC 154, where he’s smack dab in the middle of the main card, you’d have to think his bandwagon will begin to fill up.
The 31-year-old Carmont was slogging it out in Europe for a long time, primarily on the Polish circuit, where he won the KSW tournament belt. Even still, there was only so much training he could get in his native France. At 27 years old, he was an 11-7 fighter. It was time to commit to an elite gym and jump-start his career, or settle into life as a journeyman.
“I changed my team for the better and my training camp,” he told ESPN.com at the open workouts in Montreal. By “changed” he means he eventually strung together a couple of wins in Poland and Switzerland, then bolted for Quebec, where he began training with Firas Zahabi at Tristar. Now he spars daily with the likes of Rory MacDonald and UFC 154’s headliner, Georges St-Pierre.
Now, Carmont is riding an eight-fight winning streak and creeping into top-10 consideration. Zahabi has been preaching Carmont for a long time, and so has anybody who has trained with him.
He’s beginning to see the payoff for leaving his native France, a move that earned him an adjective for a moniker -- “Limitless.”
“A friend gave me the nickname because I say that anything in life is possible if you make it necessary to do what you want to do,” he says. “For me, I live in France, and it’s difficult for me to train with the best [to prepare for fights in] the UFC. So I moved to change my life to do what I want to do.”
What he wants to do on Saturday night at the Bell Centre is improve to 4-0 in the UFC and make the middleweight radar start bleeping. After a pair of early submission victories -- second-round rear-naked chokes over Magnus Cedenblad and Karlos Vemola -- he draws a wily veteran in Lawlor, who is coming off a knockout victory over Jason MacDonald.
Lawlor, for all intents and purposes, needs a win in a big way after having dropped three of five fights. We’ve seen experienced fighters like Lawlor step up in big spots to derail hype trains before. Look at Mike Pyle against John Hathaway, for example. Or Jamie Varner versus Edson Barboza.
With 4-ounce gloves, anything can happen.
What -- Carmont worry? He’s as relaxed outside of the cage as he is in it. He says that though “Lawler’s a tough guy,” he’ll be ready to showcase his skills to his adopted city. It’s not hard to see where he gets the confidence. He gets it from the guy he showed up in entourage with at the open workouts.
“To train with the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world is very good for me,” he says. “[St-Pierre] gives me a lot to make me better in the cage.”