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


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