Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Top 5 MMA Lightweights in South Africa

The lightweight division is one of the premier divisions in MMA. It is synonymous with highly skilled fighters who have seemingly infinite stamina. This usually results in epic battles. The South African lightweight scene is no different, and is home to some of South Africa’s top MMA athletes. Here is my take on the current rankings of South African lightweight fighters:
1.       Costa Ioannou (4–0)
Undefeated in his professional career and boasting many of the biggest scalps in the division, Costa Ioannou is somewhat of an enigma in the lightweight class. He is ferocious on the feet, incredibly strong in the clinch and an expert on the ground, a mix which is proving increasingly difficult for the rest of the division to figure out. Ioannou, the current EFC Africa lightweight champion, was also the first South African to defend an EFC title, when he bested Alex Cheboub in emphatic style at EFC 10. If history is anything to go by, Costa Ioannou could be a dominant force in the hexagon for a long time to come.

2.       Chris Bright (26-3)
Chris Bright made a quick cameo in the EFC, earned a title shot and was then forced to withdraw due to injury. This is all most MMA fans have seen of one of the most decorated MMA fighters South Africa has ever produced. Bright has fought both nationally and internationally for many years and is regarded as one of the best ground specialists in the country. As MMA fans we can only hope that the powers that be can arrange for Chris Bright to challenge Costa Ioannou sooner rather than later, in what would undoubtedly be a defining fight for South African MMA and a BJJ master class.

3.       Brendon Katz (7-1)
Brendon Katz has a single blemish, courtesy of this list’s number one fighter, Costa Ioannou, in a fight of the night appearance. Shy of his only loss, Katz has looked impressive in the cage, and has recently made a successful jump to fighting internationally, where he has defeated USA’s Omar Santiago at XFC Africa 5 and UK’s Huseyin Garabet at UCMMA25. Hopefully we will see Brendon Katz back in the cage in South Africa soon, where he can put his wealth of experience to good use.  

4.       Wentzel “The Animal” Nel (9-3)
Former EFC Africa Lightweight champion Wentzel Nel has used his wrestling to defeat some of the best in the division, including besting Leo Gloss to become the first EFC lightweight champion. Nel recently lost his lightweight crown to Costa Ioannou at EFC 08, but bounced back with a pair of wins against Manny Da Silva at EFC 09 and Terrence Griessel at EFC 11. It looks like The Animal wants his Lightweight belt back!

5.       Alex “Professor” Cheboub
The Professor’s recent move to the EFC Africa Lightweight division has opened many doors for the grappling guru. Firstly, a title shot against Costa Ioannou, which Cheboub lost via third round submission in what turned out to be an intense chess match on the ground. One of the most technical fighters in the EFC, Cheboub, who has spent the majority of his time in the welterweight division, will now be able to pit himself against smaller opponents, where it is less likely that his impressive skill set will be neutralised by size and strength alone.    

To view all South African rankings, visit my MMA rankings page


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