Hexagone MMA 7: Samantha Jean-François defends title against Andressa Araujo Rocha

On March 11, at the Futoroscope Arena in Poitiers, France, Samantha Jean-François will attempt to defend her Hexagone MMA title against Andressa Araujo Rocha.

After winning the strap in Dubai, UAE, via first-round submission, the Frenchwoman will do whatever it takes to give her home fans a show and keep the belt wrapped tightly around her waist.

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Born on Reunion Island, the natural athlete lived a peaceful existence. But at the age of 25, her life changed forever. By chance, she stumbled across an introductory MMA class and instantly fell in love.

Chasing pastures new, she moved to the mainland in search of the key to unlocking her full potential.

She says: “I have all my ties there, but at some point, I wanted to go somewhere else. It’s a beautiful island, but I’d seen it all, so I left.

“That day, many people told me that I had the fibre, that I had something special. They thought I was fluid, fast, and that I had a strong mind.” 

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Samantha Jean-François leaves her beloved Reunion Island to pursue her dreams

Upon her arrival, she developed her skills in kickboxing and jiu-jitsu, finding herself excelling past her gym mates at a rapid pace, until she simply couldn’t resist the urge to set foot in the cage any longer.

Jean-François debuted in 2015, defeating Morgane Delagnau in a statement performance. And it wasn’t long until she was mixing with the greatest fighters on the planet.

Within two years of her first contest, the warrior collided with now UFC strawweight champion, Weili Zhang. However, at this stage in her career, the Chinese icon was simply too seasoned. The French star succumbed to her opponent’s thunderous power, eventually falling foul to a TKO finish.

However, rather than lose faith, Jean-François, maintained the belief that she possessed the tools to make it to the pinnacle of the sport. And while the ride certainly hasn’t been easy, in 2022, everything clicked into place.

She explained: “I’ve only been feeling rounded as a fighter for a year. Before that, I was doing MMA, but I hadn’t yet discovered all the parameters of the discipline.” 

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Samantha Jean-François has had an incredible journey to Hexagone MMA 7

After scoring a stunning first-round submission victory over Valentina Scatizzi, Jean-François sent shockwaves through the division and caught the eye of Hexagone MMA in the process.

Clearly impressed with her fighting spirit and entertaining style, the promotion gave her the opportunity of a lifetime. At Hexagone MMA 4, the 36-year-old received a shot at the title, and in the most significant moment of her career, she rose to the occasion.

In her defining moment, she submitted Mona Ftuohi, to make a decade of sacrifices worthwhile, while simultaneously writing herself into the history books.

Throughout her journey, many an obstacle has been placed in her path, but she kept on trucking until she finally reaped the rewards.

The fighter confessed: “Winning this belt felt like revenge for me. In my career, I’ve had several offers for championship fights, but each time there was an obstacle. One time, it was because when I went for the blood tests, I discovered I was pregnant!” 

However, while claiming the belt is difficult, holding onto it is an entirely different kettle of fish.

She admitted: “Keeping a title is more difficult than getting it. I feel like I’m at the beginning of my career!”

With a sense of perspective on her shoulders, the warrior knows that she’s become the hunted, with every fighter at 115 pounds eager to get their shot at her beloved strap. And on Saturday night, she’ll have to be at her best if she wants to fend off an extremely determined challenger.

Read: Hexagone MMA: Meet the President of one of Europe’s best promotions (sporf.com)

Samantha Jean-François fights Andressa Araujo Rocha at Hexagone MMA 7

Born in Brazil, Andressa Araujo developed a passion for MMA, falling in love with every element of the sport. With a desire to prove her ability, she trained like a trojan, making her debut at just 18.

She quickly became one of the hottest prospects in the game, compiling a 5-1 record, with four of her wins coming inside the distance.

With staggering punching power and a frightening ground game, a world championship reign appeared written in the stars. However, due to unavoidable circumstances, she had to repress her passion, waiting impatiently to reconnect with the sensations that make her feel alive.

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Andressa Araujo Rocha has lost several years of her prime, but her talent still remains

In a selfless move, she joined the army to fight for her country. The Campo Grande native followed this by working tirelessly to join the police.

She explained: “Martial arts is my whole life. I didn’t like the idea of stopping at all.  I experienced my break from the sport as heartbreak.”

But as time has passed, she’s settled into life, working as a prison guard. And luckily, she’s found time for the thing she loves more than anything else.

Rocha confessed: “I love my job, but what drives me is MMA. My goal in the future is to make a living from it. Martial arts have allowed me to gain confidence in my job.”

And she credits the new role to her ferocious mentality.

The Muay Thai striker revealed: “The very tough police training taught me to push myself to my limits and get out of my comfort zone. It has helped me a lot with MMA. But on the flip side, martial arts has also given me confidence in my job. It goes both ways.”

On Saturday night, Hexagone MMA will provide the fans with an incredible match-up. In one corner, you have an ever-improving fighter desperate to do her country proud, and in the other, you have an athlete who’s looking to deliver on the potential the experts have always known she has.

In a collision that pits hard work and dedication against sheer talent and class, we can’t wait to see who comes out on top.

Featured Image Credit: Hexagone MMA