Already a World Champion in Brazilian Jiujitsu, Jean-Paul “Mufasa” Lebosnoyani Sees a Future in Mixed Martial Arts

The good fight.

Many believe Jean-Paul “Mufasa” Lebosnoyani was born to be a mixed martial arts (MMA) champion. The 24-year-old chooses to live a disciplined lifestyle that includes no alcohol and rigorous daily training. The nickname Mufasa, Swahili for “king” or “ruler,” reflects his mentality.

“I’m not here to play games or make friends,” he says. “It is my life—from the way I live my life to the way I look. I don’t have a choice anymore. I care too much, and I want this more than anything.”

A skilled jiujitsu athlete since a young age, Jean-Paul began training at California Mixed Martial Arts in Gardena with head coach Chad George. Before retiring in 2019 and becoming a coach, Chad won more than 26 professional fights.

“Jean-Paul exemplifies the essence of a true martial artist—disciplined, focused and dedicated,” says Chad. “He embodies the qualities that every coach hopes to find in an athlete. With his exceptional talent, relentless work ethic and genuine passion for the sport, he has embraced the fact that this is more than just a hobby. It’s his calling.”

As a child, Jean-Paul trained with his father, Nono, at his MMA academy in Downtown Hermosa Beach on Pier Avenue. At the time, Nono was professional mixed martial artist Royce Gracie’s strike coach. In addition to being Jean-Paul’s godfather, Royce is the founder and a Hall of Famer of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

From ages 5 to 17, Jean-Paul competed at the highest level of Brazilian jiujitsu. At Mira Costa High School, he also competed on the wrestling team. After high school, Jean-Paul transitioned to MMA fighting, where he is currently at five wins and two losses.

“Jean-Paul was one of my last opponents,” says sparring partner Devon Brock. “He beat me first round after I slammed him straight into the triangle. I had a second to think the fight was over, and he got me in a triangle choke.” Jean-Paul won the Lights Out Xtreme Fighting title against Devon and advanced to the Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) division.

His highly anticipated fight against Jacobi Jones, 27, for the LFA 158 championship title would result in the winner advancing to the UFC division. Prediction odds had Jacobi losing by a large percentage, but Jean-Paul admits that the fight was not his best performance. Not making any excuses for the loss, he has two takeaways from the event—not to mention a noticeable forehead scar.

The first is to fight at a more appropriate weight division. Competing against Jacobi in the LFA 158 meant losing 30 pounds to match his opponent’s weight, despite being two inches taller. “Leading up to the fight, I was focused on my training and preparation, but a lot of my focus was on getting my weight down to 155 pounds,” he says. “It took away a lot of potential energy to focus on the fight.”

His second takeaway is to fight a more strategic battle as opposed to just going to war. “Once I got in there, I just put the pedal to the metal and tried to get the guy out in the first round, which ultimately led me to make technical errors,” he says. The cut to his forehead was so bloody, the referees stopped the fight.

Jean-Paul now understands that even through adversity, he doesn’t have “quit” in him. The lessons from that match give him more confidence going into his next fight in the welterweight division at 170 pounds, where he is currently undefeated. He is set to fight Jose “Suavecito” Diaz, 33, on October 21.

“His commitment to becoming the best is truly inspiring,” adds Chad. “I am honored to be a part of his journey, and together we are ready to conquer every challenge and seize every opportunity that comes our way.”

Jean-Paul desires to one day be the UFC world champ. No matter what, he hopes he’s remembered for staying true to the spirit and craft of martial arts while continuing to generate the same amount of hype. For him, an exciting fighting style includes the proper amount of respect.

“People are noticing that the more you run your mouth and belittle your opponent, the more eyes you get on you,” he says. “I think that as there is more hype and more eyes on the UFC and combat sports, we are falling away from the true meaning of mixed martial arts—which is to have honor and respect for your opponents. We need to respect the art form and the idea of going in the cage and fighting.”

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