Sunday, 17 June 2012

Best MMA lightweight fighters in South Africa - June 2012

Over the past few months the South African lightweight division has undergone a serious facelift. Many of the division’s fighters have migrated to the featherweight division, and some new fighters have dropped down from welterweight to join its ranks. This has resulted in many changes to the pecking order and created some interesting new matchups for the future.

Here are my lightweight rankings post EFC Africa 14:

SA MMA lightweight rankings

1. Costa Ioannou (5–0)

Costa Ioannou faced his toughest test yet in Adam Speechly at EFC 14. After a dominant start, Ioannou seemed to run out of steam and was forced to dig deep to stop a very determined Speechly from taking his title. All in all, Costa Ioannou managed to get the job done and once more showed why he is South Africa’s best lightweight.   

2. Adam “The Prodigy” Speechly (12-4)

Former EFC Africa welterweight champion Adam Speechly impressed at EFC 14, pushing Costa Ioannou right to the very end. Though Speechly would lose the decision on points, The Prodigy added another impressive title fight performance to his resume. Speechly looked great at lightweight and I hope to see him remain in the division in the future.

3. Ryan “The Lion” van Niekerk (20-6)

Ryan van Niekerk is a veteran of the sport, and has held division gold in other promotions. Van Niekerk has also fought some of the toughest names in the business including Wesley Hawkey and Chris Bright. Currently on a four fight winning streak, The Lion managed to win his EFC debut against Markus Taljaard and will be looking to build on this platform and ultimately earn an EFC Africa title shot.

4. Alex Cheboub (9-6)

Alex Cheboub returned to his winning ways at EFC 14 by submitting Ashley Calvert in the second round. Cheboub has now won 4 of his last 5 fights in the EFC Hexagon. With this win, Cheboub has once more put himself in line for a top 5 opponent, hopefully we will be treated to Alex Cheboub vs Adam Speechly.

5. Leon Mynhardt (10-5)

Leon Mynhardt has had mixed results in the EFC at welterweight, but his lightweight debut against Don Madge at EFC 13 will not quickly be forgotten. Mynhardt managed to weather a huge early onslaught from Madge, regroup and ultimately win via TKO in the third. With a wealth of MMA and kickboxing experience, incredible stand-up and an ever improving ground game, Leon Mynhardt may be a serious threat to the pro-grappling lightweight division.

Best MMA featherweights in South Africa - June 2012

EFC Africa 14 was jam packed with featherweight talent. The event saw two top lightweight fighters dropping to featherweight, featured three of the top five featherweights in action and was co-headlined by a brilliant featherweight title fight between Demarte Pena and Wesley Hawkey. With all this activity, the featherweight division is shaping up to be one of the most exciting divisions in the EFC.

Post EFC 14, here are my South African MMA featherweight rankings:

SA MMA featherweight rankings

1. Demarte “The Wolf” Pena (4-0)

Demarte Pena managed to weather the storm that was Wesley Hawkey at EFC 14. The young champion held his nerve and seized his opportunity to submit Hawkey late in the fourth round via rear naked choke. With this victory, Pena took his EFC winning streak to 4, defended his featherweight title for the first time and secured his spot atop this ranking list.

2. Wesley “The Young Assassin” Hawkey (7-3)

After executing a near perfect game plan, Wesley Hawkey was punished by Demarte Pena for a mistake late in the fourth round of their EFC 14 featherweight title fight. Hawkey was ahead on my scorecard at the time, and can be proud of his performance. Hawkey will now have to go back to the drawing board, but has shown that he is a serious contender in the featherweight division.

3. Wentzel “The Animal” Nel (10-3)

Wentzel Nel made a huge statement by defeating Denzil Wait at EFC 14. The former lightweight champion looked comfortable at featherweight and with his wealth of experience will be a great test for any of the fighters on this list. Wentzel Nel will likely challenge Demarte Pena for his title in the near future.

4. Denzil “Redstarr” Wait (5-3)

Denzil Wait put up a solid performance against Wentzel Nel in what was one of the fights of the night. Wait had the former champion in trouble a few times, but was unable to finish the fight and ultimately succumbed to Nel’s elbows in the second frame. Denzil Wait showed that he is a high level featherweight, worthy of a spot on this list.

5. Abdul “Hollywood” Hassan (18-5)

Abdul Hassan (2-1 EFC) managed to neutralise Leo Gloss and earn himself a split decision victory at EFC 13. Hollywood was effective on the ground, especially in the first round when he landed some huge ground and pound punches. Having toppled the King and only lost to Denzil Wait in the EFC,  Hassan has earned himself a spot on this list. 

To view rankings for all divisions, visit my MMA Rankings page.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Armand De Bruyn vs Thumelo Maphutha at EFC 15

The Extreme Fighting Championship has announced that Armand De Bruyn and Thumelo Maphutha will face off in yet another middleweight clash to be held at EFC Africa 15.

Armand De Bruyn

Armand De Bruyn (3-1) is currently on a three fight winning streak in the EFC, having defeated Keith Theologo, Tshikangu Makuebo and Abri Valentine within the first round. With such a stacked EFC middleweight division, De Bruyn would surely have been hoping for a top 5 opponent to aid his title shot cause, a profile which Maphutha does not fit.  

Armand De Bruyn

Thumelo Maphutha

Thumelo Maphutha (3-2) is an accomplished striker. The former light heavyweight has only fought once in the EFC Hexagon, a fight he lost against Chett Meyerat at EFC 11. It will be interesting to see how Maphutha fairs at middleweight especially against the ever dangerous De Bruyn.

Thumelo Maphutha

Armand De Bruyn vs Thumelo Maphutha at EFC 15

Armand De Bruyn and Thumelo Maphutha are in very different places in their EFC careers and one fancies that De Bruyn has everything to lose in this fight. Having strung together three straight wins, De Bruyn has earned himself a shot at the upper level middleweights, something that will certainly be revoked should he lose to Maphutha. Maphutha in turn has everything to gain with a win over an accomplished middleweight fighter and should be pleased with the opportunity to do just that. 

Martin van Staden vs Dino Bagattin at EFC Africa 15

EFC Africa 15 will feature a long anticipated welterweight fight between Martin van Staden and Dino Bagattin. The two welterweights have twice been slated to square off, but injuries have thus far prevented the matchup. Lets hope that this time MMA fans will be treated to a great fight between two of the countries top welterweight fighters.

Martin "The Punisher" van Staden

Martin van Staden (18-6) suffered his first EFC loss to Michiel Opperman at EFC 13. The Punisher (#2 Welterweight rankings) who was on a three fight winning streak, will look to bounce back against Dino Bagattin and keep himself within reach of a welterweight title shot.

Martin van Staden

Dino "The Lion" Bagattin

Dino Bagattin (9-2) has won 4 of his last 5 fights, losing only to Michiel Opperman at EFC 12. The Lion, who recently won a split decision against Francois Kabulu at EFC 13, will look to build on this momentum and work himself back up to the top of the welterweight division. 

Dino Bagattin

Martin van Staden vs Dino Bagattin at EFC 15

Martin van Staden and Dino Bagattin find themselves in a very similar position. Having both recently lost to Michiel Opperman, the two fighters are looking to rebuild their way towards a title shot. With Opperman set to face Costa at EFC 16, the winner of this fight will certainly be in the EFC matchmakers minds when looking for the next welterweight title contender.

Tyron Rightford vs Darren Daniel at EFC 15

With a hugely stacked division, it is unsurprising that the EFC middleweight division is the centre of attention in South African MMA. The latest bout to create a stir in the promotion is an EFC Africa 15 fight between undefeated EFC fighter Tyron Rightford and local MMA legend Darren Daniel. This is almost assuredly a number one contender bout, the winner of which will in all likelihood face the winner of Smith vs McLellan 2.

Darren "Double D" Daniel 

Darren Daniel (5-1) is widely regarded as one of the most talented local MMA athletes and is undefeated on South African soil. Daniel was destructive in his first two EFC fights defeating Dallas Jakobi and Jacques Joubert in the first round in 2010. Darren Daniel has not fought in almost two years and will now have the opportunity to prove that he is still one of the divisions best when he clashes with Tyron Rightford at EFC 15. 

Darren Daniel

Tyron "The Rush" Rightford

Tyron Rightford (3-0) is undefeated in his professional MMA and EFC careers. Though he started slowly with a majority decision victory over Tshikangu Makuebo, Rightford soon found his rhythm and quickly dispatched of Paul Terblanche and Jacques Joubert via TKO to earn himself the #3 spot in my middleweight rankings.  

Tyron Rightford

Darren Daniel vs Tyron Rightford at EFC 15

Even before it was officially announced, the prospect of Darren Daniel vs Tyron Rightford caused a great buzz in the MMA community. The two fighters started early with banter on twitter which helped to fuel this fight. Though featured on a fight card behind two great title fights, Daniel vs Rightford seems to be stealing the show and promises to be a great fight between two great middleweight fighters.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Jadyson Costa vs Michiel Opperman at EFC 16

Today the Extreme Fighting Championship announced that Jadyson Costa will defend his welterweight title against Michiel Opperman at EFC 16. The event, which has not officially been released by the EFC, is rumoured to be taking place in Cape Town in September 2012.

Jadyson "Little Wanderlei" Costa

Jadyson Costa (13-12-1) dominated Dallas Jakobi at EFC 13 to become the EFC Africa welterweight champion. Costa out-struck Jakobi and managed to finish him via fourth round TKO. Jadyson Costa now holds an impressive 3-0 record in the EFC and sits atop the welterweight rankings

Jadyson Costa

Michiel Opperman

Michiel Opperman (10-6) has grown immensely as a mixed martial artist over the last 18 months and now holds an impressive 7 fight win streak (3-0 EFC). The former kickboxer has also developed a dangerous ground game and has submitted all three of his EFC opponents. With notable wins over Dino Bagattin and Martin van Staden, Michiel Opperman is a genuine contender for the welterweight title.

Michiel Opperman

Jadyson Costa vs Michiel Opperman at EFC 16

Jadyson Costa and Michiel Opperman are very different fighters, both physically and stylistically, which makes for an interesting match-up. Costa brings a certain mystique to the Hexagon due to his impressive international resume, while Opperman brings a reputation for winnings fights that on paper he oughtn't to win.
Both men are also undefeated in the EFC and have notched up some impressive wins in their tenure with the promotion. This is a fight I am really looking forward to.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Norman Wessels vs JP Joubert at EFC 15

EFC Africa 15 will host the EFC's first ever light heavyweight title fight. The fight will pit former EFC Africa heavyweight champion Norman Wessels against JP Joubert to determine the best light heavyweight in the country.

Norman "Chef" Wessels 

Norman Wessels (5-2) looked impressive at EFC 13 where he defeated Dain Neveling in convincing fashion. Wessels, made the drop to light heavyweight after losing his heavyweight title to Ruan Potts, and looked extremely comfortable at the lower weight. Norman Wessels (#1 Light heavyweight rankings) will now have the chance to become the first EFC fighter to hold championship titles in two weight divisions.

Norman Wessels

JP "The Bull" Joubert

JP Joubert (3-2) is on a three fight win streak in the EFC. Joubert, also a former heavyweight, defeated Danie van Heerden, Gina Ifuki and Jeremy Scheepers to earn himself the #3 Light heavyweight ranking and a shot at the light heavyweight title.

JP Joubert

Norman Wessels vs JP Joubert at EFC 15

Norman Wessels brings a wealth of experience to this fight, having fought in two title fights already. Joubert however will not be intimidated by Chef's record and will be a very game opponent. These fighters have two very different fighting styles, but share a common goal - to become the first EFC Africa light heavyweight champion. As with most title fights, this should be a cracker. 

Jeremy Smith vs Garreth McLellan 2 at EFC 15

EFC Africa 15 will play host to the first title rematch in EFC history, and what a rematch it is.

Earlier this year, at EFC 12, Jeremy Smith managed to defeat Garreth McLellan via fourth round Guillotine choke to become the EFC Africa middleweight champion. The fight, arguably the biggest ever on African soil was evenly contested until Smith caught McLellan, and the rematch will be eagerly anticipated by MMA fans.

Jeremy "Pitbull" Smith

Jeremy Smith (11-1) has not fought since his faced McLellan at EFC Africa 12. The Pitbull however will come into this fight in a very different position, with the added pressure of being the middleweight champion. Smith will want to prove that his victory at EFC 12 was no fluke and retain his middleweight strap.

Jeremy Smith

Garreth "Soldierboy" McLellan

Garreth McLellan (7-2) looked clinical against Danie van Heerden at EFC 14. The victory, a second round rear-naked choke submission, earned Soldierboy a rematch against his nemisis Jeremy Smith. McLellan will once more have the chance to prove that he is the best middleweight in Africa

Garreth McLellan

Jeremy Smith vs Garreth McLellan 2 at EFC 15

The first fight between Jeremy Smith and Garreth McLellan was a fight of the night performance. I expect nothing less from this one. Each fighter will take something out of their last clash, and both should come into this fight even more prepared. With the stakes just as high as before, and the names as big as they get in South African MMA, this fight promises to deliver something special.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

EFC Africa 15 - Wessels vs Joubert

EFC Africa 15 will see the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) host back to back events at Carnival City in Johannesburg. EFC 15, set to take place on Friday 27 July will also feature two title fights between some of the countries top MMA athletes.

Norman Wessels vs JP Joubert at EFC 15

Post EFC Africa 15, the light heavyweight division will finally have a champion and Norman Wessels and JP Joubert hope to be that champion. The two former heavyweights (currently ranked 1 and 2 on my light heavyweight ranking list) have been on a collision course since Wessels dropped to light heavyweight and will finally have a chance to prove who is the best light heavyweight in the country.

Jeremy Smith vs Garreth McLellan 2 at EFC 15

Jeremy Smith was forced to withdraw from this bout due to injury. Garreth McLellan will now face Armand De Bruyn in a middleweight clash.

EFC Africa 15 Promo Video

EFC Africa 15 full fight card

Norman Wessels vs JP Joubert (Light heavyweight title fight)
Tyron Rightford vs Darren Daniel (Middleweight fight)
Garreth McLellan vs Armand De Bruyn (Middleweight fight)
Raymond Ahana vs Jason Culverwell (Light Heavyweight fight)
Chett Meyer vs Donavin Hawkey (Middleweight fight)
Martin van Staden vs Dino Bagattin (Welterweight fight)
Leon Mynhardt vs Alex Cheboub (Lightweight fight)
Francois Kabulu vs David Buirski (Welterweight fight)
Andrew van Zyl vs Mohmed Karim (Heavyweight fight)
Boyd Allen vs Alain Ilunga (Lightweight fight)
Liam Cleland vs Tumelo Maphutha (Middleweight fight)
Hector Britts vs JC Lamprecht (Welterweight fight)
Lance Ceronio vs Mahmoud Salama (Light Heavyweight fight)

EFC 15 fight predictions

To view my pre-event fight predictions for EFC Africa 15, click here: EFC 15 fight predictions

EFC 15 Betting odds

The official betting odds have been released by Keith Ho BetXchange. Here are the EFC 15 Betting odds

EFC 15 Weigh-in results

The weigh-ins are done and dusted and the majority of fighters came in spectacular shape. View all EFC 15 weigh-in results

EFC 15 fight results

The fight results will be updated as the action unfolds. Click here to view all EFC 15 fight results

EFC 15 in retrospect

To view my post event thoughts, read my article EFC 15 in restrospect

All EFC 15 articles

To view all my articles on EFC Africa 15, click here: EFC 15 articles

UFC coming to South Africa

Yesterday UFC president Dana White announced that South Africa was next up in the UFC's worldwide expansion tour.

The growth of South African MMA, spearheaded by the EFC, has obviously been noticed by the worlds major MMA production, and though the announcement came as a surprise to me, it really oughtn't have.

Dana White had the following to say about South African MMA:
Actually, mixed martial arts is huge in South Africa right now. There’s a show down there now that I just heard about that is doing 1.2 million viewers every time it’s on. So the sport is booming all over the world, and yeah, South Africa is next. That’s where we’re going.
It is likely that the UFC will begin with a TV deal to bring UFC events to South African television, and if this is well received, investigate the possibility of doing a live event in the country. The UFC is a huge promotion, and will likely received some attention, but it is rather unlikely that they will bring their superstars to South Africa in the near future.

While its great to get the attention of the major world players, I don't imagine this move will have much of an affect on the South African MMA scene in the short term.

Monday, 4 June 2012

MFC at Durban Ice Rink 10 June

Megladon Fight Club (MFC) is hosting a pro and amateur MMA fight night at the Durban Ice Rink this Sunday  10 June 2012.

MFC information

Date: 10 June 2012
Time: 18:00
Venue: Durban Ice Rink 

MFC fight card

The MFC fight night will host 15 MMA fights, both professional and amateur including the following headline fights:
Moodley vs Pretorius
Ninow vs Msane

MFC ticket information

Tickets are R100 and will be on sale at the door.

MMA All Stars - amateur MMA event on 9 June

Godfather productions and Quantum Tribe will host MMA All Stars, an amateur MMA event on Saturday 9 June 2012. The event will play host to a number of amateur MMA fights, including a couple of title fights.

MMA All Stars information

Date: 9 June 2012
Time: Doors open at 18:00, Fights start at 19:00
Venue: Luso Africa Sports Club, 15 Walnut road, Primrose, Johannesburg

MMA All Stars fight card

Duho Kim vs Mbabelo Swekile
Jason Le Roux and Craig Le Roux will both be fighting
Other fights TBA

MMA All Stars tickets

Tickets for the event will be R120.00

For more information on MMA All Stars, call 082 852 7974

Saturday, 2 June 2012

5 fights to make after EFC 14

With EFC 14 behind us, it’s time to once more take stock and look toward the future. Here are 5 fights that I think the EFC should consider making in the near future.

5 fights to make after EFC 14

Jeremy Smith vs Garreth McLellan

Although I have never been an avid supporter of a quick rematch between Garreth McLellan and Jeremy Smith, it seems that this fight has to happen. Garreth McLellan looked focussed at EFC 14 where he defeated Danie van Heerden in what was touted to be a number on contender bout. With the major players in the middleweight division already matched up, Jeremy Smith vs Garreth McLellan 2 now seems inevitable.

Ruan Potts vs Bernardo Mikixi

Bernardo Mikixi defeated Mahmoud Hassan at EFC 14 to take his current win streak to two. Given the state of the heavyweight division, this is enough to warrant a title shot against heavyweight champion Ruan Potts.

Demarte Pena vs Wentzel Nel

Wentzel Nel looked strong at featherweight as he defeated Denzil Wait via second round TKO. With three straight EFC wins, including one against a top 5 featherweight, Wentzel Nel has surely earned himself a shot at Demarte Pena and the featherweight title.

Wesley Hawkey vs Abdul Hassan

Wesley Hawkey showed that he is one of the best featherweights in South Africa at EFC 14. The Durban based fighter will want to get into the Hexagon as quickly as possible and work his way back up to a shot at the title. After his win against Leo Gloss at EFC 13, Abdul Hassan finds himself on a similar path and a fight between the two now many perfect sense.

Adam Speechly vs Alex Cheboub

Both Adam Speechly and Alex Cheboub have suffered recent losses to Costa Ioannou and will want to work their way back to the top of the division. The two master grapplers will be a great test for each other and hopefully put on a great fight for the fans.

EFC 14 fighter analysis

EFC Africa 14 was a great MMA event! Many fighters gave it their all and this showed in the Hexagon. Though the EFC 14 results are in, they do not always convey the spirit in which the fight was fought. Here is my list of fighters who impressed me at EFC 14

EFC 14 fighter analysis

Markus Taljaard

Markus Taljaard looked calm and collected in his fight against Wade Groth. Though put on his back early, Taljaard was able to work well from his guard and limit the damage take from a very aggressive Groth. In the third round, Markus Taljaard’s composure paid off as he was able to slap on a beautiful triangle choke and earn himself the win. Markus Taljaard earned my surprise fighter of the night award.

Wade Groth

Though Wade Groth lost to Markus Taljaard in their EFC 14 bout, the result doesn’t tell the full story. Groth looked explosive as he was able to take Taljaard down multiple times and land some effective ground and pound. Both fighters looked good on the ground and at the time of Taljaard submitting him, Groth was very likely ahead on points.

David Buirski

In a fight that never really got going, Buirski showed patience as he kept his distance from Mwale and landed effective leg kicks almost at will. A well timed head kick ended the fight in the first frame. David Buirski earned my knock-out of the night award.

JP Kruger

Kruger looked clinical as he quickly dispatched of Mawande Vapi, whom he outclassed on the ground.

Wentzel Nel

Wentzel Nel vs Denzil Wait was a definite contender for fight of the night. The two featherweights showed off impressive ground skills in a hard fought tussle. Nel showed great awareness and composure coupled with great technical skill to avoid being finished on the ground and eventually earned himself a dominant position and the TKO win.

Denzil Wait

Denzil Wait looked a different fighter from the man who stepped into the Hexagon at EFC Africa 12. The second half of a great technical ground battle with Wentzel Nel, Wait had the former lightweight champion in precarious positions a number of times, but was unable to get the finish.

Garreth McLellan

Ever the professional, Garreth McLellan left nothing to chance as he defeated a very dangerous Danie van Heerden in a clinical MMA display. McLellan got the fight to the ground and worked hard for his submission win, a win that will likely see him enter the Hexagon opposite Jeremy Smith once more. Garreth McLellan earned my fighter of the night award.

Bernardo Mikixi

Bernardo Mikixi weathered a heavy storm from Mahmoud Hassan before flooring his opponent and finishing him with brutal strikes. Mikixi showed he can take a punch and give as good as he gets.

Demarte Pena

In another contender for fight of the night, Demarte Pena showed the temperament of a champion as he managed to keep cool under Wesley Hawkey’s fire in their featherweight title fight. Pena, was able to turn the tides on the challenger and earn himself a submission victory late in the fourth. Humble in victory, Pena proved he is the real deal at featherweight. Demarte Pena earned my submission of the night award.

Wesley Hawkey

Wesley Hawkey was punished for a single mistake in what was a near perfectly executed game plan. Hawkey, looked comfortable standing and on the ground, landing the more effective shots. At the time of his submission, I had Wesley Hawkey well ahead on points.

Adam Speechly

Unsurprisingly, Adam Speechly showed the heart of a champion as he fought back from the brink of defeat to put Costa Ioannou under real pressure. Speechly looked more comfortable at lightweight and I hope this drop in weight is a permanent one.

Costa Ioannou

Though I was initially disappointed with Costa Ioannou for gassing so early and almost throwing away a fight he had all but in the books, I could not but be impressed with his ability to push through his fatigue and win rounds against a very game Adam Speechly. Costa Ioannou has always had the skill set, but tonight he proved he has the heart of a champion as well. Costa Ioannou vs Adam Speechly earned my fight of the night award.

EFC 14 in retrospect

The Extreme Fighting Championship returned to Johannesburg with a stacked fight card featuring 5 current or former champions. The high profile event featured 2 title fights and managed to live up to all the hype.

My EFC 14 predictions

My predictions were pretty useless this EFC. There were many close fights, which could have gone either way and in most cases went the other way. Of those I did get correct in terms of winner, I was largely out in terms of manner, though I take comfort in getting the middleweight clash between Garreth McLellan and Danie van Heerden pretty much spot on. It seems even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut.

Correct predictions: 6/13
Correct title fight predictions: 1/2

My EFC 14 fight of the night

The EFC 14 fight of the night has to go to Costa Ioannou and Adam Speechly for their 5 round lightweight title war. The technical grappling match was insane to watch and both fighters showed why they are so well respected in this discipline. Add to this the humility and respect with which both fighters approached this fight and it is a deserved winner.

My EFC 14 submission of the night

Demarte Pena’s rear-naked choke against Wesley Hawkey in their featherweight title fight is my submission of the night. Given the gravity of the situation, Pena’s ability to quickly and effortlessly transition to back mount and sink in a title winning submission was beautiful to watch.

My EFC 14 knockout of the night

Knock-outs were in short supply at EFC 14. David Buirski’s head kick on Kelvin Mwale was about as close to a clean KO as we got. The kick, which sent Mwale to the canvas was followed up with punches to earn a TKO victory.

My EFC 14 fighter of the night

Garreth McLellan was the most impressive fighter for me at EFC 14. The former middleweight champion looked focussed from the get go in his clash with Danie van Heerden and finished the fight in a very clinical manner to earn himself another shot at Jeremy Smith.

My EFC 14 surprise fighter of the night

Markus Taljaard was my surprise fighter of the night. Having seen him trade strikes with Ryan van Niekerk at EFC 12, Taljaard surprised  and impressed me with his ground game at EFC 14. Taljaard had a very active guard, but it was his composure while on his back which ultimately earned him his submission victory over Wade Groth.

Costa Ioannou defeats Adam Speechly at EFC 14 to retain lightweight title

Tonight Costa Ioannou became the first fighter in EFC history to defend his EFC title twice when he defeated Adam Speechly via unanimous decision at EFC Africa 14. Ioannou, a huge favourite, was put to the test by a determined Speechly and was forced to dig deep to grind out the win and retain his lightweight title. A great main event, Costa Ioannou and Adam Speechly showed what MMA is all about.

Costa Ioannou vs Adam Speechly EFC 14 fight breakdown

Costa Ioannou took control of the fight early, taking the fight to the ground and maintaining a dominant position for the better part of the first two rounds. Ioannou was able to land some vicious ground and pound and attempt near submissions, looking every bit the dominant champion we are used to. Though Speechly worked hard off his back, the grappling wunderkind couldn't seem to find an answer.

As round two drew to a close, Ioannou looked worn out. Speechly took this opportunity and pressed the action in round three, taking the top position and landing some shots of his own. The fight had taken a huge turn and Ioannou looked in real trouble for the first time in his professional career.

Costa Ioannou bounced back in round four, and though he looked gassed for the remainder of the fight, was still able to land effective take downs, control the fight and nearly land a fight finishing rear-naked choke. Speechly for his part was competitive in the latter rounds, but never looked as threatening as he had in the third.

The fight went the distance and Costa Ioannou was awarded a well deserved unanimous decision victory to retain his EFC Africa lightweight title.

Full EFC 14 fight results

Demarte Pena retains his EFC Africa featherweight title at EFC 14

Demarte Pena showed great composure and awareness in his EFC Africa 14 featherweight title defence against  Wesley Hawkey. Though behind on points on my scorecard, Pena managed to sink a late fourth round rear-naked choke to force a tap from Hawkey and maintain his EFC title. A relieved young champion was humble in victory and thanked Wesley Hawkey for such a great fight.

Demarte Pena vs Wesley Hawkey fight breakdown

Wesley Hawkey was not as nearly as aggressive as many had expected him to be, and this lead to a much more methodical and calculated battle. Though Pena landed some effective leg kicks and take downs in the early rounds, Hawkey was more effective on the ground landing some nice ground and pound from the top and attempting submissions from the bottom. Nothing fight changing was landed early on and both fighters looked fresh in the latter rounds.

Rounds three and four saw Hawkey begin to open up a little more with his hands as Pena's leg kicks slowed down. Hawkey still remained cautious though, in all likelihood trying to nullify Pena's dangerous double leg take down.

A late flurry from Hawkey in the fourth round saw Demarte Pena back up and look in trouble. As Hawkey pressed forward, Pena was able to land another take down. A ground battle ensued and Pena eventually managed to get top position. With less than 20 seconds on the clock, Hawkey made a costly mistake as he tried to escape from the bottom position. Demarte Pena was quick to latch onto this opportunity and rolled with Hawkey, got his hooks in and sunk in a deep rear-naked choke. Wesley Hawkey would be forced to tap with less than 5 seconds on the clock in the fourth round.

Demarte Pena, now 4-0, became the first EFC Africa featherweight champion to defend his belt.

Full EFC fight results

Friday, 1 June 2012

EFC Africa 14 - Blow by Blow

Costa Ioannou vs Adam Speechly (Lightweight title fight)

Demarte Pena vs Wesley Hawkey (Featherweight title fight)

Bernardo Mikixi vs Mahmoud Hassan (Heavyweight fight)

A typical heavyweight fight, both men came in hard. Mikixi managed to injure Hassan with a big shot and finish him on the ground in the first few minutes.

Garreth McLellan vs Danie van Heerden (Middleweight fight)

Both fighters went to work early, and after a head kick by Garreth McLellan and an attempted standing guillotine by Danie Van Heerden, the fight went to the ground. McLellan looked comfortable on the ground but was forced to work hard to achieve anything. 
Round two went to the ground early and McLellan took control of the fight, secured back mount and managed to sink in a rear-naked choke to claim the win and likely title rematch with against Jeremy Smith.

Wentzel Nel vs Denzil Wait (Featherweight fight)

Great technical battle between Wentzel Nel and Denzil Wait. The majority of the fight was spent on the mat where both fighters had their fair share of the dominant position. Both fighters almost finished the fight in the first frame, but it was Wentzel Nel who managed to come out stronger in the second round. After a period of reversals on the ground, Nel managed to secure a dominant position and rain down some elbows to win the fight via TKO.

Francois Kabulu vs Amr Wahman (Welterweight fight)

Francois Kabulu controlled the fight on the ground for the better part of the first two rounds, but was unable to submit Wahman despite a few close attempts. Both fighters looked gassed in the third round, a round in which Amr Wahman landed more shots. Francois Kabulu was eventually awarded a unanimous decision victory.

Terrence Griessel vs Gareth Buirski (Featherweight fight)

A great fight back and forward fight between two strong athletes. There were times when both fighters almost finished the fight, but it was eventually Terence Griessel who landed a third round guillotine choke to win via submission.

JP Kruger vs Mwande Vapi (Middleweight fight)

JP Kruger took the fight to the ground early and transitioned quickly to Vapi's back. From there it was only a matter of time before Kruger submitted him via rear naked choke.

Alex Cheboub vs Ashley Calvert (Lightweight fight)

Alex Cheboub looked like he had nothing to lose as he fired off a wide variety of strikes in the stand-up. On the ground, Calvert attempted a few submissions before Cheboub took control of the fight, eventually securing a crucifix position and submitting Calvert via a rather painful looking second round Keylock submission.

David Buirski vs Kelvin Mwale (Welterweight fight)

David Buirksi circled nicely and landed effective leg kicks throughout the first round. A surprise head kick landed and dropped Mwale late in the first to earn Buirski his first EFC win.

Koba Iakobidze vs Alain Ilunga (Featherweight fight)

Ilunga and Iakobidze fought hard standing and on the ground. The fight seemed fairly even early on but Ilunga seemed to get the better of the exchanges as the fight progressed and eventually managed to drop Iakobidze with body kick in the third to win via verbal submission.

Wade Groth vs Markus Taljaard (Lightweight fight)

Taljaard got the better of the early stand-up exchanges, rocking Groth with a beautiful right hand. This forced Groth to take the fight to the ground where he was dominant, landing big shots in a very active Taljaard guard. Both fighters looked very impressive. 
Round 2 saw Taljaard land some more nice shots standing, before the fight once more went to the mat. Taljaard managed to get full mount before Groth reversed the position and managed to stay on top for the better part of the round.
Round 3 saw both fighters come out striking before Groth performed a beautiful judo throw to take Taljaard to the ground. After some great ground and pound again by Groth, Markus Taljaard managed to slap on a beautiful triangle choke to win via third round submission.

Tshikangu Makeubo vs James Le Roux (Middleweight fight)

As expected, Tez Makeubo looked to strike, while James Le Roux wanted to get the fight to the ground and look for a submission. The first round saw a mixed bag, with Makeubo landing a few big shots and Le Roux attempting some very close submissions. The second and third rounds were rather uneventful, with both fighters looking gassed. In the end Makuebo appeared to press the action and did enough to earn a unanimous decision victory.