Saturday, 8 December 2012

2012 Submission of the year - Wesley Hawkey - MMASA Awards

Across the seven events this year, the EFC Hexagon saw plenty of submission victories. My submission of the year takes us right back to March 2012 and EFC 12, when Wesley Hawkey and Denzil Wait entered the Hexagon to determine the number one featherweight contender.

Hawkey was touted to have the superior standup, while many believed Wait would hold an advantage on the ground. What transpired was equally unexpected and impressive. After landing up on his back early, Hawkey effortlessly slapped on a tight armbar, which Wait, lifting Hawkey off the ground, barely managed to escape. Minutes later however, Wesley Hawkey managed to conjure up another top-drawer armbar out of thin air. This time Hawkey kept Wait on the mat, forced the tap and earned his featherweight title shot in emphatic style.

Wesley Hawkey's spectacular submission victory over Denzil Wait was one of only four armbar submissions in 2012.

Submission of the year - Notable mentions

Michiel Opperman vs Martin van Staden

After being taken down early in the first round of their EFC 13 fight, Michiel Opperman weathered an early storm from Martin van Staden. Opperman held his nerve, worked his way back to standing and sunk in a tight standing guillotine choke to win the fight and earn himself a welterweight title shot against Jadyson Costa.

Demarte Pena vs Wesley Hawkey

In a fight that Hawkey was undeniably winning on points, Demarte Pena showed great awareness, composure and skill to grasp a rare opportunity and sink in a fight winning rear-naked choke. The submission victory kept the belt around Pena’s waist and his undefeated record firmly intact

Michiel Opperman vs Jadyson Costa

Michiel Opperman stunned the MMA community when he defeated Jadyson Costa by submission at EFC 16. Opperman, a severe underdog, sunk in a rear-naked choke in the first frame to defeat the BJJ black belt and become the EFC Africa welterweight champion.

To see all award winners, visit my 2012 MMASA Awards page

Monday, 3 December 2012

2012 KO of the year - JP Joubert - MMASA Awards

There were relatively few knock-outs in the Hexagon this year, which made awarding the Knock out of the year simpler in some respects and a lot more difficult in others. However, when looking at 2012, there was one knockout which stood out, as it not only defined a career, but turned an entire division on its head – JP Joubert’s knockout of Norman Wessels at EFC Africa 15.

This knockout was anything but routine. After a brutal first round in which Wessels punished him with elbows on the ground, Joubert looked all but beaten. The second round however saw a change in fortunes for the Bull, who came out swinging, and after one of the most entertaining rounds of the year, managed to unload a plethora of punches on Wessels, knocking him out and earning himself the EFC Africa light heavyweight title.

KO of the year - Notable mentions

Jadyson Costa vs Dallas Jakobi

Jadyson Costa’s dominant performance over Dallas Jakobi at EFC 13 culminated in an impressive KO victory. With a vicious right hand Costa sent Jakobi sprawling to the canvas and earned himself the welterweight title.

Jeremy Smith vs Darren Daniel

Smith vs Daniel put two of the divisions most aggressive fighters into the Hexagon together. Daniel landed some good shots from range early on and looked in charge of the fight. Things changed when the fighters got close as Smith managed to land a left hook which sent Daniel to the mat. Smith would end the fight seconds later to retain his middleweight title.

Gareth Buirski vs Markus Taljaard

At EFC Africa 16, Gareth Buirski displayed his one punch knockout power as he finished Markus Taljaard with a monster right hand in the second round of their featherweight fight. Taljaard was carried out of the Hexagon on a stretcher.

To see all award winners, visit my 2012 MMASA Awards page

Sunday, 2 December 2012

2012 Fight of the year - McLellan vs Smith - MMASA Awards

The MMA year started with a bang when EFC Africa middleweight champion Garreth “Soldierboy” McLellan and decorated challenger Jeremy “Pitbull” Smith squared off for the middleweight title in a fight which was billed as the biggest fight ever on African soil. The fight didn't disappoint.

Both fighters came into the fight after a long training camp and looked well prepared, fit and strong. What ensued after the bell rang, was a tactical battle which seesawed in favour of each of the fighters in turn. The game plans were spot on and neither fighter seemed to gas – a sign of an ever increasing professionalism within the South African sphere of the sport. Lasting almost four rounds the fight showcased some of the best skills that South African MMA has to offer and set the stage for a great MMA year.

Jeremy Smith eventually won the fight via Guillotine choke in the fourth round to become the new EFC Africa middleweight champion.
In search of a rematch McLellan went on a rampage which set the middleweight division alight.

For all of these reasons – Garreth McLellan vs Jeremy Smith is my 2012 fight of the year.

Fight of the year - Notable mentions

Don Madge vs Leon Mynhardt

The lightweight clash between striking legends Don Madge and Leon Mynhardt at EFC 13 was a brutal striking masterclass. Madge started strong and almost finished the fight in the first frame, but Mynhardt rallied in the second and took the fight to the Muay Thai standout. Although the two warriors delivered a spectacular show, the fight was shrouded in controversy after a rather anticlimactic finish in the third round which saw Mynhardt the victor and Madge somewhat confused and disappointed.

Costa Ioannou vs Adam Speechly

The lightweight title fight between EFC titans Costa Ioannou and Adam Speechly at EFC 14 was always going to be a grappling extravaganza. Speechly weathered a strong start by the champion and turned the tides on a exhausted Ioannou in the middle rounds. Ioannou however dug deep and eventually managed to eke out a unanimous decision victory after a five round grappling war.

To see all award winners, visit my 2012 MMASA Awards page

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

2012 EFC Rookie fighter of the year – JP Kruger – MMASA Awards

Many new faces graced the Hexagon in 2012, some put on great performances, while others struggled against South Africa’s best fighters. The Rookie fighter of the year is awarded to the fighter who, after making his debut in 2012, went on to excel in the cage.

This year’s rookie fighter of the year is JP “Tinkerbell” Kruger.

At EFC Africa 12, Kruger entered the EFC Hexagon for the first time against dangerous striker Pete Motaung whom he managed to submit via second round Triangle choke. Three months later he dispatched of Mawande Vapi via Rear-naked choke to set up a November tussle with veteran fighter Wade Henderson (a fight I had hoped to see earlier in the year). After a great fight, where Kruger looked impressive on his feet, Tinkerbell was awarded a unanimous decision victory – a great way to finish his first year in the EFC, with a perfect 3-0 record in the promotion.

Rooking fighter of the year - Notable mentions

Boyd Allen

Boyd Allen also had a great maiden year in the EFC. The Fightfit Militia fighter earned three wins over two weight divisions and ended the year with an impressive 3-0 EFC record. Allen defeated Donald Nzirawa at EFC 12, Alain Ilunga at EFC 15 and Amos Hlatshwayo at EFC 17.

To see all award winners, visit my 2012 MMASA Awards page

Monday, 26 November 2012

2012 Fighter of the year – Michiel Opperman – MMASA Awards

With 81 fighters stepping into the Hexagon in 2012, it was likely going to be difficult to select one standout fighter. This year, however, it was not difficult at all.

At EFC Africa 12, Michiel Opperman, a relatively unknown fighter holding a professional record of 8-6 and on a five fight winning streak as a middleweight, decided to drop weight on short notice to face dangerous welterweight prospect Dino Bagattin. Bagattin was rated one of the top contenders for the welterweight title at the time and carried a professional record of 8-1. This seemingly foolish move for someone so entrenched in the middleweight division proved brilliant as Opperman defeated Bagattin via second round triangle choke and announced himself as a contender in the welterweight division.

Opperman would then go on to finish number one contender Martin van Staden at EFC Africa 13, and end his year by submitting Welterweight Champion Jadyson Costa at EFC Africa 16.

Currently the EFC Africa welterweight champion and aptly dubbed “The Dark Horse”, Michiel Opperman managed to shut out the welterweight division in one year, defeating both top contenders and the champion.
For these achievements, coupled with the attitude and humility of a champion, Michiel Opperman is my South African MMA fighter of the year.

Fighter of the year - notable mentions

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith had a blinder of a year. The Pitbull featured in the two biggest fights of the year – against Garreth McLellan at EFC 12 and Darren Daniel at EFC 17 – and won them both. Having defeated two of the biggest names in South African MMA, Smith has solidified himself atop my Pound for pound rankings.

Costa Ioannou

Costa Ioannou remained undefeated in 2012, defeating AdamSpeechly and Leon Mynhardt. The EFC Africa Lightweight champion was tested more than ever before by a game Speechly at EFC 14 and showed he has plenty of heart to compliment his array of skills.

To see all award winners, visit my 2012 MMASA Awards page

2012 MMA South Africa Awards

In 2012, South African MMA took some giant leaps forward. This was spearheaded by the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC), who hosted six blockbuster events over the course of the year. These events showcased 76 fights and 81 professional fighters, they also included a debut event in Cape Town and two fights billed as the biggest fights on the African continent – both of which featured Pound for pound king Jeremy “Pitbull” Smith.

With the MMA year all but over, I have compiled my Awards to celebrate the great MMA achievements made over 2012. Without further ado, I give you the 2012 MMA South Africa Awards:

2012 MMA South Africa Awards

Thursday, 18 October 2012

EFC 16 Fight Predictions

Following a longer lay-period than usual, both between events and blog posts, EFC Africa 16 is now just around the corner. The event will play host to three title fights from across the weight division spectrum – featherweight, welterweight and heavyweight.

The much anticipated sixteenth edition of Africa’s biggest MMA spectacle has had many changes to the fight card since it was initially announced and there are many new names on the roster, here is the latest rendition and my predictions for the fights.

EFC 16 fight predictions

Ruan Potts vs Bernardo Mikixi (Heavyweight title fight)

Winner: Ruan Potts via Submission

If Bernardo Mikixi is going to win this fight, he has one way to do it – swing and swing hard. The Black Panther has shown impressive knock-out power in his last few fights, but his ground game appears to have some serious holes.

Though Ruan Potts has the tools to exploit this weakness in Mikixi, the undefeated champion has also shown a willingness to stand and trade, confident in his own abilities. Though likely still a favourite in the stand-up, should Potts choose to trade with Mikixi he will afford his opponent a much greater chance in this bout.

Ruan Potts is an experienced fighter, too experienced I feel to let Mikixi into the fight. Potts will close the distance early, get the fight to the ground and submit Bernardo Mikixi in the first round to retain his EFC Africa heavyweight title.

Jadyson Costa vs Michiel Opperman (Welterweight title fight)

Winner: Michiel Opperman via TKO

Jadyson Costa has proven his mettle in the EFC. The current welterweight champion is a wizard on the ground, has great striking skills and experience second to none in the promotion. Costa is on a three fight winning streak and has shown no signs of slowing down. The former Pride fighter has even begun to showboat and toy with his opponents, signs that his confidence is at an all time high.

Michiel Opperman is the polar opposite of Jadyson Costa - a technical striker who, over the last few years, has worked tirelessly improving his ground game. Opperman is methodical in the Hexagon and doesn't appear to show any emotion.

Jadyson Costa will be the hands down favourite going into this fight, but I believe that Opperman has the skillset to upset the Brazilian champion. Using his size, reach and ever improving wrestling skills, I believe Opperman will be able to keep the fight standing, a domain where he will likely hold the advantage. One can never write off the champion, but I am going to predict the Opperman wins via second round TKO.

Demarte Pena vs Terrence Griessel (Featherweight title fight)

Winner: Demarte Pena via Submission

Demarte Pena has shown that he knows how to win fights. The young champion has not had an easy run to the top, but has overcome adversity like a true champion, and gained a wealth of experience doing so. Pena looks better every time he steps into the Hexagon, a dangerous thought for featherweight division fighters.

Terrence Griessel’s recent drop to featherweight was a successful one, besting Gareth Buirski en route a title shot (after Nel was unable to fight). Griessel is a strong, tenacious featherweight, who has been given a great opportunity to make a statement.

Both fighters are grinders, and I don't expect this fight to end quickly. I believe Pena will be a little quicker in the stand-up and more fluid on the ground. I predict that, after a few long rounds on the mat, Demarte Pena will seize an opportunity to finish Griessel via submission in the later rounds.

EFC 16 Non–title fight predictions

Wade Henderson
Tumelo Maphuta
Markus Taljaard
Gareth Buirski
Francois Kabulu
Nicholas Radley
Andrew van Zyl
Ian Visser
JC Lamprecht
Daniel Sinclair
Danie van Heerden
Dain Neveling
Jean-Luc Kazadi
Francois Groenewald
Wade Groth
Khalil Akleker
Brendon Groenewald
Sors Grobbelaar

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

JP Joubert vs Norman Wessels EFC 15 fight video

The Extreme Fighting Championship have released the full fight video from EFC 15's headline fight. JP Joubert and Norman Wessels stepped into the cage to determine the EFC Africa light heavyweight champion and in the end it was JP Joubert who was crowned champion. In case you missed the fight, or just want to relive the action, here is the full fight video.

Full results from EFC 15 : EFC 15 fight results

JP Joubert vs Norman Wessels EFC 15 fight video