The struggle to get MMA legalised in France was a long one, but thankfully now there’s no need for fighters like Lucie Bertaud to flee abroad to thrive anymore, and French MMA fighters can now legally compete in their home country. MMA has recently been legalised in France as of January 2020, and is now being recognized as a growing global competitive sport which is huge for France.
The first ever fully regulated French MMA event took place just two days before Bellator at a smaller promotion – the MMA Grand Prix. However, two days later Bellator 248 was hosted at the Accor Arena – Paris Bercy, Saturday 10 October – slightly missing the mark on making history. This was still the first time a major MMA promotion held an event in France – so for the fighters and for Bellator – it’s still an incredibly big deal. Hosting Bellator in France was a huge milestone for both the sport and France, being aired on BBC iPlayer and Channel 5 in the UK and on CBS Sports in the USA – the fighters were being promoted and broadcasted on the biggest TV channels, which is great for the fighters, who really pulled it out of the bag on Saturday night.
The MMA Grand Prix that took place in Vitry-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris – also included a female match. Laetitia Blot take the win Vs Leonora Nasiomento via K.O (punches), making history as the first female to ever win an official MMA event in France.
Although that event officially set history, Bellator did too, by being the first major MMA promotion to host an event in France. One of the fights on the card was Lucie Bertaud Vs Maguy Berchal, the only female card of the night, and Bertaud made history for France as the first woman to win a pro MMA fight for a major promotion in France. Bellator is the third biggest MMA organisation in the world, so for both fighters making their Bellator debut – this fight was crucial.
The fight lasted all three rounds and Lucie Bertaud won via unanimous decision. The fights were intense, and there was a lot of groundwork which was unexpected as Bertaud is renowned as a European boxing champion, so you would think she would want to stay on her feet – but she seemed to have a game plan in mind.
Starting off as a boxer, Bertaud excelled in the sport becoming a European champion, and then decided to move on to fight MMA six years ago. Having been a combat sports journalist and presenter, she has also picked up a variety of different martial arts skills along the way, making Bertaud an incredibly educated and challenging fighter. Even though Lucie won via unanimous decision, she put up a tough fight and dominated the match both on her feet and on the ground which was surprising for this pro boxer. I expected the match to be one where both are on their feet and maybe Berchal would try to take Bertaud to the ground knowing she would be strongest on her feet. When actually, Bertaud was the one to take it to the ground and seemed incredibly comfortable both on her feet and on the ground.
However, even though Bertaud was the winner, she does think that she would have done some things differently if she could go back in time…
“I would maybe have tried more transition, took more risks maybe… and do more boxing, but anyway my arm was up… so!”
Congratulations on the win and congratulations to France on this step forward for MMA!
You can watch the Bellator prelims over on BBC iPlayer.