Sunday, 4 March 2012

EFC 12 Fighter Analysis

At EFC 12, twenty four professional Mixed Martial Artists entered the Hexagon. Some had been squarely focused on this event for almost a year - living and breathing it. Others, last minute injury replacements, for just over a day. EFC Africa 12 was set to be a huge night for South African MMA, and a defining moment for many of the participating fighters' careers.

The EFC 12 fight results are in and unfortunately on the day, twelve of these warriors could not win. Here are my thoughts on the fighters based on their performance, not the eventual result.

EFC 12 – Fighters who impressed me on the night

Koba Iakobidze
Though Iakobidze lost his fight against Gareth Buirski via submission, the Georgian boxer looked incredibly quick and accurate with his punches. On the feet, Iakobidze looked as good as they come and with a bit of work on his take down defence and all round ground game, Koba Iakobidze will be a handful in the featherweight division.

Ryan van Niekerk and Markus Taljaard
With similar fighting styles, both fighters impressed me with their striking ability. Their fast paced punch exchanges not only showed quality offense, but great counter-punching ability. Rumour has it that Ryan van Niekerk broke his hand in the first, which makes this all the more impressive. Their lack of diversity is somewhat concerning though, as neither fighter varied their attack much.

Boyd Allen
Boyd Allen looked the real deal as he picked apart a very experienced Donald Nzirawa. On the feet he looked crisp and accurate, and he seemed to have a solid enough defensive ground game to boot. Training out of the acclaimed FightFit Militia team, Boyd Allen looks to have a bright future in the Hexagon ahead of him.

JP Kruger
A traditional striker, Kruger didn’t care much to muck about on the feet and looked to get dangerous striker Pete Motaung to the ground. Though his technique was often imperfect and I found myself shouting direction at him, Kruger surprised and impressed me just how comfortable he was on his back. With visibly improving ground game and a solid striking background, JP Kruger looks set for a Middleweight climb.

Danie van Heerden
Another South African fighter to realise the importance of fighting at the correct weight, Danie van Heerden looked great at Middleweight. He was aggressive and showed quick hands in the stand-up and showed great resolve and tenacity on the ground. There is still room for improvement on the ground and some hard work to do to complete his all round game. That being said, this was definitely the best Danie van Heerden I have seen and with a huge win under his belt van Heerden can look forward to some high quality opposition on his next outing.

Michiel Opperman
Opperman looked calm under fire as he traded evenly with top welterweight contender Dino Bagattin. The kickboxer from Pretoria also seemed to get the better of Bagattin in the kicking department, and his leg kicks seemed to be taking a toll on The Lion. Opperman capped off a solid performance on the feet with a triangle choke to prove he is a complete fighter. With this win, 6 straight now, Opperman catapults himself into the upper ranks of the welterweight division.

Wesley Hawkey
Renowned for his boxing, Wesley Hawkey the self proclaimed “White belt in jits” showed a very impressive ground game in his featherweight bout against Denzil Wait. Hawkey, who was taken down early attempted multiple near submissions before landing a brutal armbar to end the fight and earn his featherweight title shot. With what looks like a complete game, the Young Assassin will be a worthy adversary for reigning champion Demarte Pena.

Garreth McLellan
Garreth McLellan impressed me to no end in his title fight with Jeremy Smith. Coming into the bout an underdog, Soldierboy mixed his game up nicely and at times dominated the fight. McLellan had opportunities to finish the fight, but was unable to do so and in the fourth round was punished for his sole mistake. At the time I had the fight all squared up. A great effort by a great champion, we have certainly not heard the last of Garreth “Soldierboy” McLellan.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy “The Pitbull” Smith showed just why he is rated one of the top fighters in the country. Calm under pressure, The Pitbull managed to recover from a couple of precarious situations and to capitalise on McClellan’s single mistake to become the new EFC Africa Middleweight champion. Jeremy Smith, who is known for his aggressive striking, showed great patience throughout the fight and ironically won via submission in the fourth round.


Post a Comment