It’s been another whirlwind week in the MMA universe with some really interesting developments here in South Africa.
The EFC (Extreme Fighting Championship) announced another title fight for its first event of 2018, EFC 67, which takes place in Johannesburg on 10 March. Asides from the featherweight cataclysm of Igeu Kabesa against Boyd Allen, CIT’s Danella Eliasov will take on Italy’s undefeated Chiara Penco (2-0) for the inaugural women's strawweight belt. Usually fighting at atomweight, Penco moves up 4 kilos to face the similar record of Eliasov (2-1), who has only ever fought Europeans in her pro career and lost only to Penco’s compatriot Micol Di Segni in 2015 at the same venue. Also like Di Segni, Penco spends her time away from the gym as a professional model, but it would be suicide if she expects to dominate a much-improved Eliasov since Micol’s unanimous decision victory at flyweight. If we look further down the line to Danella’s strawweight upset victory over Irene Cabello-Rivera, just over a year ago, it was evident that the Psych Doc from Pretoria is a far more ferocious opponent at 52kg.
Also announced for EFC 67 is a cracking welterweight scrap between Cameron Pritchard (4-1) and Gunther Kalunda (3-0). Both lads have a lot to play for with contender status to the throne always in the air with King Du Plessis juggling belts and promotions. Props to Pritchard for getting straight back on his horse after his 23-second KO loss to Da Rocha, as well as to the Kinshasan for putting his undefeated record on the line. With wins over notables such as Scheepers and Seabi, Kalunda is a durable and dangerous future prospect and gets better every time he enters the Hex. Pritchard will be desperate to exhibit the glittering ground game that dispatched Mukulu, Coxen and Bagattin before Da Rocha’s right handed the Walmer lad his first loss.
Another jaw-dropping bout announcement coming out of Bryanston this week features the third FFM athlete on the card so far. Hot on the heels of teammates Allen and Pritchard is the eminently exciting firecracker BK Masunyane (4-0), who faces his first European opponent in Connor Hignett (5-2) from HAMMA on Merseyside. ‘Hand Grenade’ is equally explosive and internationally experienced, with wins in ICE, Shinobi, Tankō and ACB, but his fight moniker is somewhat duplicitous considering that ALL five of his pro victories have come by way of submission, three of which were in the first. It’s a great signing from the EFC and presages a lot of changes for the flyweight division, which may be hogging the headlines throughout 2018. It’s also a great matchup for ‘Little Giant’ considering his ground game and Gracie Barra BJJ will be tested like never before. I much prefer BK at flyweight than bantam, particularly with teammate and bestie JP Buys moving in the opposite direction, leaving incumbent Nkazimulo Zulu to either open another international lucky packet or face the Scorpion’s sting. Fun times at fly.
One final bout for 67 which hasn’t been announced but heavily alluded to is new Dutch signing Reinier de Ridder (8-0) taking on Warren Allison (7-4). The massive lad from Breda has an 11cm-reach advantage, towers over ‘Grizzly Bear’ at 6’4” and trains out of Renzo Gracie’s flagship Dutch school, which makes sense considering that 7 of his 8 pro victories are by way of submission. Again, another great signing from the EFC and a wonderful opponent to test Allison’s much-vaunted mattitude. Warren hasn’t been past the first since his second-round win against Gareth Sawyer over three years ago, the only time, in fact, he’s ever heard the second bell in his 11 pro fights. That shouldn’t bother the Netherlander, who also has a penchant for an early shower and a cold Grolsch with five first-round wins in three years, four of which were by different subs; Triangle, Armbar, Side-choke and rear-naked. Scrambled eggs anyone?
Watch out for further EFC developments and more in next week’s MMA Zing. Thanks for reading, cheers for now.