Saturday, 3 March 2012

Garreth McLellan vs Jeremy Smith – EFC 12 fight review

Dangerous middleweight contender Jeremy Smith (10-1) defeated Liam Cleland in his EFC Africa debut. With a very impressive resume and a win in the EFC Hexagon under his belt, this was enough to earn the infamous Pitbull a shot at the EFC Middleweight belt. Standing in his way, however was EFC Middleweight Champion Garreth McLellan (6-1), who had put together 5 straight wins in the Hexagon and was looking formidable at 84kg. The contrast of styles both in the Hexagon and in personality made this match an exciting one, and with months to prepare, it was being billed as the biggest fight on African soil. EFC 12 couldn't come soon enough.

Garreth McLellan vs Jeremy Smith Promo Video 

McLellan vs Smith – Tale of the tape

Garreth McLellan
Jeremy Smith
South African
South African

McLellan came into the fight with both a height and reach advantage. This was very noticeable in the Hexagon as he towered over Smith. They did however weigh virtually the same, and the extra muscle was noticeable on the Pitbull, who looked his usual powerful self.

From the very beginning there was a camaraderie between the two fighters, the smack talk clearly  being left outside the Hexagon. When brought together for the pre-fight briefing, they touched gloves and wished each other luck in a showing that resembled old friends more than bitter rivals.

The opening bell too, saw them touching gloves and then the action began. Jeremy Smith looked calm as he pressed the action, stalking McLellan around the Hexagon. After a few brief exchanges, the two clinched and began to work away on each other’s bodies, this was to be the story of round one. Soldierboy did manage some spectacular Judo throws, which scored him valuable points, and would have gone a long way to increasing his confidence, had Smith not used his incredible power and technique to roll out of danger and often end up in the dominant position. Smith I felt got the better of the exchanges and landed the bigger shots, and I chalked round 1 in his favour. My score: 10-9 Jeremy Smith.

Round two saw the fighters immediately returning to work on wearing each other down. Both McLellan and Smith worked the legs nicely, landing some vicious leg kicks. The highlight of the round was when Garreth McLellan managed to take Smith’s back, sinking in both hooks and working for a rear naked choke. Smith defended brilliantly and never looked uncomfortable, his patience paid off as he was able to escape the position and return to his feet. Still, McLellan did enough in this round to take it.. My score:19-19.

Round three seemed very much like a recovery round for Smith, who stopped pressing the action and held back waiting for Soldierboy to engage. A much slower round, McLellan refused to play the Pitbull’s game and continued to pepper him with shots from a distance. A late flurry from Smith did enough to tie the round up and keep the scoreboard neutral. My score: 29-29.

Round four saw Jeremy returning to his aggressive ways and he pressed the action once more. An early kick was caught by Soldierboy, who immediately went in for the take down. Smith however reacted quickly, closing a guillotine choke around McLellan’s neck and freeing his legs to take full guard. The effort put into the submission was evident on Smith’s face and body as he forced himself to crank the choke... seconds later Garreth McLellan tapped out. It was all over, Jeremy “The Pitbull” Smith is the new EFC Africa Middleweight Champion!

Jeremy Smith was humble in victory, as was Garreth McLellan in defeat, showing what true champions they both are. As fighters however, I was more impressed. Jeremy Smith showed his experience and was composed throughout the fight, even when he was in adverse situations. Garreth McLellan, having not had many tough fights to date and comparatively inexperienced,  impressed me immensely by managing to hold his own with one of the best and most experienced fighters in the country. I think this will go a long way to helping Garreth McLellan evolve as a fighter and I am certain we will see him challenging for the belt again in the near future.


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