Tuesday, 27 November 2012

2012 EFC Rookie fighter of the year – JP Kruger – MMASA Awards

Many new faces graced the Hexagon in 2012, some put on great performances, while others struggled against South Africa’s best fighters. The Rookie fighter of the year is awarded to the fighter who, after making his debut in 2012, went on to excel in the cage.

This year’s rookie fighter of the year is JP “Tinkerbell” Kruger.

At EFC Africa 12, Kruger entered the EFC Hexagon for the first time against dangerous striker Pete Motaung whom he managed to submit via second round Triangle choke. Three months later he dispatched of Mawande Vapi via Rear-naked choke to set up a November tussle with veteran fighter Wade Henderson (a fight I had hoped to see earlier in the year). After a great fight, where Kruger looked impressive on his feet, Tinkerbell was awarded a unanimous decision victory – a great way to finish his first year in the EFC, with a perfect 3-0 record in the promotion.

Rooking fighter of the year - Notable mentions

Boyd Allen

Boyd Allen also had a great maiden year in the EFC. The Fightfit Militia fighter earned three wins over two weight divisions and ended the year with an impressive 3-0 EFC record. Allen defeated Donald Nzirawa at EFC 12, Alain Ilunga at EFC 15 and Amos Hlatshwayo at EFC 17.

To see all award winners, visit my 2012 MMASA Awards page

Monday, 26 November 2012

2012 Fighter of the year – Michiel Opperman – MMASA Awards

With 81 fighters stepping into the Hexagon in 2012, it was likely going to be difficult to select one standout fighter. This year, however, it was not difficult at all.

At EFC Africa 12, Michiel Opperman, a relatively unknown fighter holding a professional record of 8-6 and on a five fight winning streak as a middleweight, decided to drop weight on short notice to face dangerous welterweight prospect Dino Bagattin. Bagattin was rated one of the top contenders for the welterweight title at the time and carried a professional record of 8-1. This seemingly foolish move for someone so entrenched in the middleweight division proved brilliant as Opperman defeated Bagattin via second round triangle choke and announced himself as a contender in the welterweight division.

Opperman would then go on to finish number one contender Martin van Staden at EFC Africa 13, and end his year by submitting Welterweight Champion Jadyson Costa at EFC Africa 16.

Currently the EFC Africa welterweight champion and aptly dubbed “The Dark Horse”, Michiel Opperman managed to shut out the welterweight division in one year, defeating both top contenders and the champion.
For these achievements, coupled with the attitude and humility of a champion, Michiel Opperman is my South African MMA fighter of the year.

Fighter of the year - notable mentions

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith had a blinder of a year. The Pitbull featured in the two biggest fights of the year – against Garreth McLellan at EFC 12 and Darren Daniel at EFC 17 – and won them both. Having defeated two of the biggest names in South African MMA, Smith has solidified himself atop my Pound for pound rankings.

Costa Ioannou

Costa Ioannou remained undefeated in 2012, defeating AdamSpeechly and Leon Mynhardt. The EFC Africa Lightweight champion was tested more than ever before by a game Speechly at EFC 14 and showed he has plenty of heart to compliment his array of skills.

To see all award winners, visit my 2012 MMASA Awards page

2012 MMA South Africa Awards

In 2012, South African MMA took some giant leaps forward. This was spearheaded by the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC), who hosted six blockbuster events over the course of the year. These events showcased 76 fights and 81 professional fighters, they also included a debut event in Cape Town and two fights billed as the biggest fights on the African continent – both of which featured Pound for pound king Jeremy “Pitbull” Smith.

With the MMA year all but over, I have compiled my Awards to celebrate the great MMA achievements made over 2012. Without further ado, I give you the 2012 MMA South Africa Awards:

2012 MMA South Africa Awards