The Clinch - EFC 66 - Finales and Futures

Demarte Pena beats Irshaad Sayed to unify the EFC Bantamweight titles

PRETORIA – With more bad blood than a power cut at Groote Schuur Hospital, Pena vs Sayed 2 drew the curtains over EFC’s 2017 in breathtaking fashion at Time Square, Menlyn Maine in Pretoria, South Africa.

With the unified title up for grabs, Pena and Sayed both came out of the blocks at hair-trigger speed, with both bantams bartering strike for strike with some lightning kickboxing. But it was immediately advantage Pena, picking takedowns and a wrecking ball of a head kick that dropped Sayed in the first.

The PFA-based expat displayed incredible grit, powering through a Pena onslaught to stay in the fight with his own clinical strikes all the way into the fourth.

But as is often the case with the Angolan great, Pena’s wrestling was the difference, dropping Sayed yet again before smothering him with his patented top control while delivering a constant barrage of Gn’P that eventually forced the referee’s intervention. 

Jaws hit the floor around the arena as Pena then announced a hiatus, leaving the Hex with a Decembral record of 12-0 as the most successful champion in the history of African MMA. Time will tell whether fight fans have truly appreciated Demarte for who and what he is, and whether we deserve further chances to show it should he choose to fight upon these shores once again.

It was a melodic duet of sweet chin music as Heavyweight champion Andrew van Zyl clashed with USA’s Jared Vanderaa in defence of the 120kg burnished buckle. As the monolithic Vanderaa planted himself in the cage-centre, both men klapped the living daylights out of each other for 25 merciless minutes.

Vanderaa’s leg kicks chopped away at the Parktown baobab, visibly crippling the champion, but they were not enough to rob Van Zyl of the title, which took the judges' nod by controversial split decision. Vanderaa acquitted himself brilliantly and many gave him the share of the points, while others might request more finality to dethrone a king such as ‘One Gear’.

It was a fitting finale to season one of The Fighter which was an attritional gut-shoot for the most part until the final 10 seconds, when Ibrahima Mané fired-off a truly hellacious head kick that broadened South Africa’s Brendan Lesar’s nasal horizon, but which ultimately proved marginally insufficient to hand the Frenchman the six-figure contract.

That was given to a deserving Lesar by unanimous decision. He will have to put in some serious hard yards before he’s fed to Champion Dricus Du Plessis in 2018.

José Maurício da Rocha Jr continues to put his late-replacement debut loss to aforementioned Du Plessis behind him, with a top-notch submission of similarily late-replacement Pupanga Tresor. Coming off the back of a stunning KO of top contender Cameron Pritchard at EFC 63 the Brazilian was clinical and unstoppable from the first tocsin of the bell.


Overwhelming ‘Fireboy’ with relentless takedown pressure, he patiently smothered his opponent to force the opportunity for an Anaconda Choke and sunk it in deeper than a Mariana Trench. Da Rocha obviously wants another crack at Du Plessis with a full camp and it would be hard to bet the farm on any other welters than the CIT phenom getting the better of the man from the Rio Grande.


The main card began with a fascinating but cagey exposition of technical striking,
France’s Philippe ‘Le Terrible’ Rouch peppered South Africa’s Gareth Buirski with creative striking from all angles throughout, punctuated by takedowns that merely allowed Buirski to work for submissions off his back. Rouch rightfully won the split decision which was dishonourably booed by the Buirski faithful to whom Rouch responded by screaming, “How dare you! I won this fight, are you blind or what?!”

Oh had I a penny for Cal Ellenors thoughts right there! And that concludes Extreme Fighting Championships superb 2017.

EFC returns for its 67th event on 10 March 2018 in Johannesburg

The official EFC 66 results are:

Khulekani Hlongwa defeated Colin Hume via TKO (punches) 2:40 in round 1.
Tresor Buluwa defeated Stefan Pretorious via TKO (punches) 4:29 in round 2.
Martin De Beer defeated TC Khusu via TKO (punches) 1:27 in round 3.
Quaid Openshaw defeated Mark Kamba via submission (Triangle) 3:53 in round 1.
Steven Goncalves defeated Nerick Simoes via submission (Rear-Naked Choke) 4:34 in round 1.
Ricky Misholas defeated Kevin Koekemoer via TKO (doctor stoppage) 4:31 in round 3.
Gunther Kalunda defeated Conrad Seabi via unanimous decision.
Rizlen Zouak defeated Jacqualine Trosee via TKO (punches) 0:27 in round 1.
Will Fleury defeated Gordon Roodman via TKO (punches) 1:35 into round 2.
Phillipe Rouch defeated Gareth Buirski by split decision.
José Da Rocha defeated Pupanga Tresor via submission (Anaconda choke) 4:45 in round 1.
Brendan Lesar defeated Ibrahima Mané via unanimous decision.
Andrew Van Zyl defeated Jared Vanderaa via split decision, retaining the EFC heavyweight title.
Demarte Pena defeated Irshaad Sayed via TKO (punches) 4:23 in round 4.

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