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.


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