PFL’s Impa Kasanganay on cusp of $1M prize following surprise rise

There aren’t many fighters as well-rounded as Impa Kasanganay.

“This is actually one of my maxims: I’m not too high and I’m not too low,” Kasanganay told the Post in a recent conversation. “I’m just full of joy, dude. No matter what life throws at me, I have a pretty joyful perspective on life. …Some days are harder than others, but I’m going through it.” I never said it was difficult.”

Kasanganay, who until recently was living in his car, is one win away from earning $1 million if he wins the light heavyweight season title at Friday’s PFL World Championship event (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+ pay). The reason you get paid is because you get this perspective. – per view).

Kasanganay (14-3, 7 fins) only turned pro in 2019, but he’s already experienced the ups and downs of the sport like few others.

While he insists it was never his goal to make it to the UFC or die, Kasanganay managed to get there less than two years after making his professional debut. This was a fortunate development considering the contract he made with his parents after graduating from university and receiving his degree. He quit his office job in the field of accounting and finance to devote himself to fighting.

Impa Kasanganay defeated Martin Hamlett in the PFL semi-finals in August and will face Josh Silveira in Friday’s championship fight.

“I said, ‘If I don’t make it to the UFC in two years, I’m going to go back and get my CPA.'” Kasanganay was born to his disgruntled parents, who immigrated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo before he was born. I remember saying. . “…That’s it. I’ll just be an accountant.”

Narrator: Kasanganay is not an accountant.

Kasanganay is a rare fighter who won two races on Dana White’s Contender Series before signing a UFC contract, making his official promotional debut just two weeks later.

However, his next fight was on the UFC Highlights list for the wrong reasons, as Kasanganay was coming off a stunning spinning backkick knockout from Joaquin Buckley that made him the KO of the year in 2020. It will be seen on reel forever.

“Credit to him. He wasn’t lucky,” Kasanganay says, recalling Buckley’s masterpiece. “…I didn’t see that. It could have been done better.”

Kasanganay also split his next two fights with the UFC and remained in a holding pattern after his four-fight contract expired.

Three months later, Kasanganay told his agent at the time that if the UFC didn’t give him a fight, he wanted to fight elsewhere, and then lost three by split decision to Eagle FC in March 2022. It became an eye. In the past four appearances.

When it came to fighting, Kasanganay remained a consistent presence in the gym despite his lackluster performance.

Outside the gym it was even harder.

Kasanganay had to give up another job he was doing, giving him an ultimatum: fight them or fight.

With his source of income hit and with no intention of moving back from Florida to his parents in North Carolina, Kasanganay chose to live in his car for a while and get out of the situation.

“Actually, I was really at peace,” Kasanganay recalls of his mindset during the low period. “I’m just like, ‘Keep training, keep training, keep training.'” Begging and calling everyone to fight [in] It’s the most respectful way I can do it. ”

Kasanganay got back on track last July with a win over fellow UFC veteran Jared Gooden when he moved up to XMMA, and has returned to being a typical middleweight after a brief stint at welterweight as a challenger in his last three fights. Ta.

With Kasanganay back on a winning track, he was put on the PFL’s radar late last year for the 2023 Challenger Series. The promotion represents a platform for him to land a UFC contract.

The kicker: Kasanganay will compete for the first time as an undersized light heavyweight.

“When I first competed in the Challenger Series, Osama [Elseady, my opponent,] It grabbed me and I thought, “This is a little different than welterweight or middleweight.” But after that I calmed down and was able to finish. However, I never felt that I was at a disadvantage. ”

A TKO victory in March earned him a spot on the PFL roster, but he initially missed that year’s light heavyweight season.

After a decision win over Corey Hendricks in April, Kasanganay received a windfall after a series of positive tests for banned substances forced several players off the field for the season.

In Kasanganay’s only match of the regular season, he earned a submission victory over Tim Carron in the second round in June, earning him five points in the season standings and enough points for the No. 3 seed in the semifinals in August. Obtained.

Facing 2022 runner-up Martin Hamlett, Kasanganay won by first-round knockout to secure fourth place in his five-game winning streak and seal Friday’s final against Silveira (12-1, 11 finishes). .

“I know I’m shorter than most light heavyweights,” Kasanganay said. Kasanganay, who is 5 feet 11 inches tall, walks around at about 210 pounds and easily clears his limit of 205 pounds. “Martin Hamlet was a big man, and I remember grabbing me and feeling one of his arms wrap around my whole body. …But in terms of strength, and a sense of power. Then I felt like there were some lightweights out there that were going to hit harder than these guys.”

If Kasanganay emerges with a win over Silveira, he intends to invest wisely in building his future, and the only thing he will reward himself with will probably be a new bike.

And if he wins, expect the same old Kasanganay. Not too high, not too low.