A peaceful champion
If we pinpoint it, the turning point in Samantha Jean-François’ life would certainly be the year she turned 25. Firstly, because it marked the end of a youth spent under the sun of Reunion Island, where the young woman was born and built.
“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,” she says, now 35 years old.
The other defining aspect of this pivotal year was her discovery of martial arts by chance, during an introductory course organised in a gym on Reunion Island, just before she took off.
“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. Once she arrived in Metropolitan France, in the south of France, Samantha Jean-François started to work on becoming a fighter. First, she focused her training on kickboxing, and then she started to take jiu-jitsu more seriously.
“Remaining a champion is more difficult than becoming one.”
“In 2023, I entered my ninth year of MMA. But really, 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,” she admitted.
This rise in competency aligns with a particularly successful year for Jean-Francois. 2022 was punctuated by two first-round victories via submission, including in her last fight, for the HEXAGONE MMA world title.
“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!”
But she knows and does not hide the fact that, “keeping a title is more difficult than getting it.” Defending her belt is a challenge that the Reunion native is eager and motivated to take on: “I feel like I’m at the beginning of my career!”