Impa Kasanganay and the Warrior’s Mentality

PFL
February 22, 2024
Once the victim of the world’s most viral knockout, incumbent Professional Fighters League light heavyweight champion Impa Kasanganay obtained his respect the old-fashioned way: by beating it out of people.

Kasanganay wants to push forward and through undefeated Bellator MMA middleweight titleholder Johnny Eblen when they meet as part of the PFL “PFL vs. Bellator Champs” show this Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Eblen ranks as the most formidable opponent “Tshilobo” has faced to this point, as he has stopped half of the men he has fought and ruled his division for two years. Still, after living in his car just a year ago, Kasanganay does not believe there can be an opponent more brutal than life itself.

“I think people can be arrogant, and it doesn’t have anything to do with their wins and losses; it’s more a revelation of their character,” he said. “Before you know it, that catches up with them, and pride comes before the fall.”

Kasanganay had little to be prideful about a year ago. Having lost two of his last three fights, the 30-year-old was more infamous for his highlight-reel knockout loss to Joaquin Buckley than his merit in the cage. Kasanganay was discarded by the Ultimate Fighting Championship and in need of a new home before the PFL provided him with the opportunity of a lifetime.

The five-fight winning streak Kasanganay rattled off from the PFL Challenger Series to the light heavyweight finale was unlike anything the promotion had ever seen. He was an afterthought, and 11 months later, he reigns as the promotion’s most unlikely titleholder. Kasanganay always wanted to be a champion, but he never imagined becoming a role model.

“It’s one of those things where you’re grateful, but it also puts you in check,” he said. “I realize that there’s something about my life that really influences other people, and I know that I have a responsibility. I mean, there’s nobody that’s said this is your obligation, but I take it as a personal challenge always to give my best self. I want to be the best version that God’s called me to be, but I also ask myself, ‘How do I use my platform to encourage other people?’”

Kasanganay has not gotten caught up in his newfound influence. Friends and teammates like Bellator welterweight champion Jason Jackson keep him grounded. Jackson won his title over Yaroslav Amosov the week before Kasanganay claimed his $1 million prize. He was also in the cage that night. Because of their bond, Kasanganay has not invested himself into the PFL-Bellator rivalry. As such, when Bellator’s Jackson confronts the PFL’s Ray Cooper III at the event, Kasanganay plans to root for his Kill Cliff Fight Club stablemate; and while Kasanganay remains grateful for the opportunity the PFL gave him, he made it clear he only fights for himself once the cage door closes behind him.

“It could be PFL vs. UFC [or] PFL vs. ONE Championship. All I know is when I step in that cage, I have a job to do,” Kasanganay said. “I’m hoping Jason dominates and does his thing. I just don’t want to sit here and get caught up in it all. I love that I get to be a part of an event. Everybody has their role and job to do. My job is to be the warrior, move forward and claim my victory.”

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/articles/Impa-Kasanganay-and-the-Warriors-Mentality-192685

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