PFL's Cedric Doumbe shot to mainstream MMA fandom in 2023 when he made an iconic debut in Paris with a memorable walk-out, introduction, and then a subsequent nine-second knockout at PFL Paris in September.
But with the increased attention, fans have dug up videos and photos of Doumbe with a highly controversial French criminal, Jawad Bendaoud.
The videos were shared on Reddit and MMA fans discussed the implications within the thread.
"Absolutely disgusting," someone wrote on the post. "Cédric Doumbé has always been a kind of careless personality and made some questionable remarks in the past (such as mimicking and making fun of Baysangur Chamsoudinov for his slanted eyes), but this definitely crosses the border. Doumbé also openly spoke out against domestic violence, which Jawad is convicted of. WTF"
Another fan commented saying, "I'm not gonna say what I hope happens to Bendauod, but f*ck him and f*ck Doumbé for hanging out with scum like him. How do French MMA fans feel about this if they are aware? I can't believe it's good for Doumbé’s reputation."
One Redditor seemed to defend the friendship writing, "Lot of people hang around you when you got the spotlight. Doesn’t mean he’s advocating for anything this guy stands for, I personally think the actions shown by Cédric showed when it counted, calling out domestic violence on the stage like that, matter more."
Some fans in the initial tweet wondered if Doumbé didn't know who he was hanging out with and perhaps just being nice to a fan, but the original poster wrote, "I also thought at the beginning of the theory of 'he doesn't recognize him and he's making the video out of politeness' but at the end of the video he says Jawad's sentence so well." The comment was translated via Google Translate from French.
FanSided MMA has reached out to Doumbe's team for comment and, at press time, have not recieved a response yet.
Who is Jawad Bendaoud?
For those unaware, Bendaoud also known as the "Daesh landlord" was convicted in 2019 of harboring the ringleader of the 2015 Paris attacks which killed 130 people.
Bendaoud rented his flat to the Islamic State group jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud and his accomplice Chakib Akrouh while they were in hiding following the attack, the worst in France since World War II. According to France24.com, "police tracked Abaaoud down to Bendaoud’s flat and launched a dramatic raid, in which Abaaoud, Akrouh and a female cousin of Abaaoud’s were killed."
During the trial, "Bendaoud presented himself as a cocaine-snorting womanizer who was in the habit of renting out his flat to gangsters without asking questions."
Bendaoud was also convicted in a separate case for “death threats” against a survivor of the attacks.
Cedric Doumbe has spoken out about abuse in the past
Doumbe made headlines when he called out his former coach, Fernand Lopez during his PFL victory speech. Lopez was cornering Doube's opponent Jordan Zébo.
“It’s not Jordan that I’m fighting, we need to change the poster, it’s Fernand Lopez that I’m fighting,” Doumbé said at his post-fight press conference. "It's the violence against women that I knock out."
Lopez was handed a four-month suspended prison sentence for physically abusing his ex-partner in Paris.