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

Demarte Pena vs Wentzel Nel EFC 16 featherweight title fight

Its official, EFC Africa 16 will host three title fights! A featherweight title fight between reigning champion Demarte Pena and former lightweight champion Wentzel Nel. The event is scheduled for 19 October 2012 at Carnival City.

Demarte "The Wolf" Pena

Demarte Pena defeated a very dangerous Wesley Hawkey at EFC 14 to defend his EFC featherweight title and firmly place himself at the top of the EFC's featherweight division. In his short professional career, The Wolf (4-0), has already been involved in his fair share of wars in the Hexagon and his EFC 16 tussle may prove to be no different.

Demarte Pena

Wentzel "The Animal" Nel

Wentzel Nel (10-3) has proved his worth time and time again. The former lightweight champion earned a title shot by finishing ranked featherweight Denzil Wait at EFC 14 to cap an impressive three fight win streak. The Animal will know now have the chance to become the first EFC champion in two different divisions when he faces Pena at EFC 16.

Wentzel Nel

Demarte Pena vs Wentzel Nel at EFC 16

Demarte Pena and Wentzel Nel are both accomplished fighters who have fought the very best that EFC Africa has to offer. Both fighters are also on great winning streaks and have taste EFC gold. Pena vs Nel pits the old school champion against his young counterpart and will be a great fight for the South African MMA fans.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Matches to make after EFC 15

With EFC 15 done and dusted, the EFC finally has full contingent of champions for the first time. The event has created some interesting opportunities for future fights. Here are 5 fights I think the EFC should consider in the near future.

5 future fights to make

Costa Ioannou vs Leon Mynhardt (Lightweight title fight)

With back to back wins against quality opponents in the lightweight division, Leon Mynhardt has announced his arrival. The Iron Lion, a very decorated and dangerous striker, has a skill set unlike any of Ioannou’s previous opponents and may prove to be his toughest adversary yet.  With Costa Ioannou in need of a challenger, Mynhardt may be just what the matchmaker ordered.

JP Joubert vs Jason Culverwell (Light heavyweight title fight)

Newly crowned light heavyweight champion JP Joubert will want to get back into the cage and prove that his title win was no fluke. With the lack of depth in the light heavyweight division and Jason Culverwell sitting on a 2-0 EFC record, the promotion really doesn’t have any other option but to throw the young fighter into the deep end. Culverwell’s performance at EFC 15 will go a long way to convince fans that he is ready.

Donavin Hawkey vs Darren Daniel

Darren Daniel and Donavin Hawkey both made big statements at EFC 15. With Smith vs McLellan 2 all but certain, the elite middleweights will have to wait their turn for a shot at the title. Daniel vs Hawkey would be a great way to keep both fighters active, determine a definite number one middleweight contender and give the MMA community something to cheer about.

Martin van Staden vs Dallas Jakobi

Martin van Staden and Dallas Jakobi are both looking to work their way back towards title contention. Once a potential welterweight title fight, Van Staden vs Jakobi would be a great test for each fighter and help to solidify the top 5 welterweight rankings.

Tyron Rightford vs Dino Bagattin

Rumours about Tyron Rightford dropping to welterweight have been circling for a while. On Thursday afternoon at the EFC 15 weigh-ins it became clear why - Rightford looked a weight division smaller than his opponent Darren Daniel. A drop to welterweight seems inevitable for Tyron Rightford and a matchup between Rightford and Bagattin at welterweight has fight of the night written all over it. 

EFC 15 fighter analysis

EFC Africa 15 was a great event, with many high profile fights. Here are the fighters whom I believe seized the opportunity afforded by EFC 15 to impress.

Fighters who impressed at EFC 15

JC Lamprecht

JC Lamprecht looked great in his professional debut against Hector Britts. The young welterweight is a great addition to the EFC roster and I look forward to watching him fight again.

Donavin Hawkey

Donavin Hawkey looked clinical in his victory over Chett Meyer at middleweight. Hawkey looked impressive standing and on the ground, submitting Meyer early in the first round.

Andrew van Zyl

Andrew van Zyl was too good for Mohmed Karim. Van Zyl showed impressive agility on the ground, transitioning effortlessly between positions and attempting multiple submissions before finally winning via TKO in the dying seconds of the first round.

Martin van Staden

Martin van Staden stood and traded with Dino Bagattin for the first two rounds of their welterweight clash. The FFM fighter then took the fight to the ground in the third and managed to submit Bagattin. In doing so, Van Staden demonstrated just how well rounded his MMA game is, though I am still questioning why he didn’t go for the take down earlier.

Leon Mynhardt

Leon Mynhardt looked impressive in his submission win against Alex Cheboub. Mynhardt managed to land shots while standing and stay out of trouble on the ground against the ever dangerous Cheboub. The Iron Lion then performed the impossible by submitting Cheboub via Guillotine choke in the second round.

Darren Daniel

Darren Daniel’s return to the EFC Hexagon was a successful one. Double D managed to take Tyron Rightford down and keep him there, landing vicious ground and pound until the referee was forced to stop the fight. Daniel showed that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the middleweight division.

Jason Culverwell

Jason Culverwell proved what a warrior he is in his light heavyweight fight with Raymond Ahana. Culverwell had to work really hard against a strong Ahana, who refused to give in. After various submission attempts, Culverwell eventually managed to stop Ahana with strikes in the third round.

Garreth McLellan

Garreth McLellan was efficient as ever as he marched through Armand de Bruyn at EFC 15. McLellan, who is rallying for a rematch with Jeremy Smith, showed the MMA community that he is hungrier than ever to get his title back.

EFC 15 in retrospect

EFC 15 was another landmark event for the promotion, eventually crowning the first EFC Africa light heavyweight champion. Here was the event as I saw it.

My EFC 15 predictions

I was not altogether unhappy with my predictions for this event. For a few of the fights, though I did get the winners wrong, the nature of the fight was very much as expected. There were however some real surprises for me, most notably the Kabulu / Buirski fight, which did not go at all as expected.

Correct fight predictions: 8/13
Correct main card fight predictions: 2/3

My fight of the night

The fight of the night for me was the light heavyweight title fight between JP Joubert and Norman Wessels. Though certainly not the most technically brilliant fight of the evening, it was an exciting scrap and I found myself completely absorbed as the two giants slugged it out. At times it felt as if the athletes were powered by sheer will alone. The entertainment value of this fight was unsurpassed on the night.

My submission of the night

Leon Mynhardt’s Guillotine choke submission of Alex Cheboub was the best submission of the night. Although Mynhardt was favoured to win the fight, not many expected the Iron Lion to be able to hold his own on the ground against talented grappler Alex Cheboub.  Mynhardt showed a hugely improved knowledge of the grappling disciple, a pre requisite if he is to get his wish of facing lightweight champion Costa Ioannou.

My knockout of the night

JP Joubert’s TKO of Norman Wessels via punches in their light heavyweight title fight was my Knock out of the night. Joubert unloaded some clean punches onto Wessels to finish the fight in the second round and earn himself the light heavyweight title.

My fighter of the night

Donavin Hawkey looked focussed and clinical as he submitted former #1 ranked light heavyweight Chett Meyer. Hawkey looked comfortable standing and on the ground and proved that he should not be taken lightly in the stacked middleweight division.

Surprise fighter of the night

JC Lamprecht looked impressive in his EFC Africa & professional debut. The Shido fighter was aggressive from the get go, showing good offence and defence on the ground en route a first round submission victory over Hector Britts. 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

JP Joubert is the new EFC Africa light heavyweight champion

JP Joubert is the new EFC Africa light weight champion! 
The Bull defeated Norman Wessels via TKO in the second round of their light heavyweight clash at EFC 15 last night. 

JP Joubert vs Norman Wessels at EFC 15

It was not one way traffic however, as Wessels took control of the fight early, taking Joubert to the ground in the first round and landing some heavy ground and pound. Joubert looked all but beaten as the first round drew to a close, staring down at the floor at times... but he never stopped punching. 

Round two saw a strange turn around as Wessels seemed to lose momentum in the break. The two stood and traded and Joubert seemed to be back in the fight, swinging heartily at the former Heavyweight champion. Though Wessels did take control of the second for moments, it was Jouberts ability to keep punching which eventually won him the title. 

As the second round closed, both men seemed to have nothing left, out on their feet they stood and traded, spurred on by nothing but heart. Joubert landed a few big shots which eventually put Chef away and earned him the title of EFC Africa light heavyweight champion.

Click here for full EFC 15 fight results

Friday, 27 July 2012

EFC Africa 15 Weigh in video

The EFC 15 weigh in's took place at Carnival City yesterday. The Extreme Fighting Championship released a full video of the weigh in event today for those who missed the live broadcast.

Here are the full results from the weigh in: EFC 15 weigh in results

EFC 15 Weigh in video

Thursday, 26 July 2012

EFC 15 fight results

Here are the full professional MMA fight results from EFC Africa 15, held at Carnival City on 27 July 2012. Fight results will be updated as the action unfolds.

EFC 15 fight results

Lance Ceronio Mahmoud Salama
Submission (Rear-naked Choke)
JC Lamprecht Hector Britts
Submission (Key-lock)
Boyd Allen Alain Ilunga
Submission (Strikes)
Francois Kabulu  David Buirski
Unanimous decision
Liam Cleland Tumelo Maphuta
Disqualification (Kicking downed opponent)
Donavin Hawkey  Chett Meyer
Submission (Guillotine choke)
Andrew van Zyl Mohamed Karim
TKO (Strikes)
Martin van Staden Dino Bagattin
Submission (Darce Choke)
Leon Mynhardt Alex Cheboub
Submission (Guillotine choke)
Darren Daniel  Tyron Rightford
TKO (Strikes)
Jason Culverwell Raymond Ahana
TKO (Strikes)
Garreth McLellan Armand de Bruyn
Submission (Rear-naked choke)
JP Joubert Norman Wessels
TKO (Strikes)

EFC 15 fight analysis

How EFC 15 fights ended

Fights won by KO/TKO 4
Fights won by Submission 7
Fights won by Decision 1

When EFC 15 fights ended

Fights ended in the first round 5
Fights ended in the second round 4
Fights ended in the third round 2
Fights ended in the fourth round 0
Fights that went the distance 2

Who won EFC 15 fights

Fights won by BetXchange favourite 8
Fights won by BetXchange underdog 5

EFC 15 Weigh in results

The EFC 15 weigh-ins took place at Carnival City this afternoon.  Tensions were high as many of the combatants have made no secret of their intentions over the past few months. Despite some pushing and shoving however, there was nothing noteworthy.

Light heavyweight title contender JP Joubert missed weight by 400g, fortunately The Bull managed to shed the offensive weight in the two hour grace period and we are good to go on the title fight. Alex Cheboub missed weight for the second event in a row and was fined.

Most of the athletes looked in impeccable shape, many of whom claim to have made weight with relative ease.

With the weigh-ins done and dusted, we are on the home stretch to the main event. I can’t wait!

EFC 15 Weigh-in results

Mahmoud Salama
Lance Ceronio
Hector Britts
JC Lamprecht
Alain Ilunga
Boyd Allen
Francois Kabulu
David Buirski
Tumelo Maphutha
Liam Cleland
Donavin Hawkey
Chett Meyer
Mohamed Karim
Andrew van Zyl
Martin van Staden
Dino Bagattin
Alex Cheboub
Leon Mynhardt
Darren Daniel
Tyron Rightford
Jason Culverwell
Raymond Ahana
Armand de Bruyn
JP Joubert
Norman Wessels

* JP Joubert was 400g overweight but made weight after a two hour grace period.
** Alex Cheboub was fined for missing weight

EFC 15 Weigh-in Photos

Armand de Bruyn vs Garreth McLellan

Darren Daniel vs Tyron Rightford

Martin van Staden vs Dino Bagattin
Images courtesy of EFC Africa. To view the full official EFC 15 photo gallery, click here