EFC 77: A BS DQ and more Belts Leave SA Shores

Written by on March 18, 2019

Reflecting on the first EFC event of 2019 and if I am to be brutally honest, EFC 77 did not deliver on what should have been a Fantastic Fight Night!

Perhaps, being the first event of the year had something to do with it resulting in a Fight Card that promised way too much for what we actually witnessed. Either way, things should hopefully get better as we all look ahead to what promises to be a great 10thyear for the EFC.

The Disappointing Prelims…

One could almost feel the relief on the part of Stephan De La Rey and Team CIT following his unanimous decision victory over Aly Kalambay. The win gives De La Rey his first professional win, which almost seemed fated as his opponent was docked 3 points following 3 low-blows during their fight.

The second fight of the prelims saw “2Pac” Kanyinda snap his 2-fight losing streak with a solid 2ndround TKO victory over Benjamin Mangala.

Asiashu Tshitamba grew his win-streak to 3 fights following his dominant performance over Orlando Machaba, who is yet to register his first professional win following 2 outings. Could a possible clash between Billy Oosthuisen and Asiashu Tshitamba be in the making?

As per my opening statement, it was about at this point in EFC 77 that it all went awry! The bout between Nerick Simoes and Marcel Els had the makings of a true featherweight war only for it to fizzle out like one of those Chinese-made sparklers. Taking nothing away from the early TKO victory by Els and his now 3-fight win-streak, like so many others, I was hopeful of so much more from Simoes.

The bout between Tumisang Madiba and Serge Kasanda was definitely going to give Kasanda his most serious test to-date and it was the “almost” ever-reliable Mr President that showed exactly what he brings to the EFC hexagon. Surviving numerous submission attempts before effortlessly taking the back of Kasanda in the 2ndround for the RNC win and extending his winning form.

The main event of the Prelims was the tantalising wrestling encounter between two former teammates; Roedie Roets, the former IMMAF Amateur World Champion and Pierre Botha, a former EFC title contender. Roets looking to go 6-0 and in so doing, secure a title shot against Featherweight Champ Igeu Kabesa, while Botha was coming off that decision win against Nerick Simoes at EFC 74 following 2 straight losses. Despite all the debating and discussions, the fight was over before I was able to get comfortable in my chair! WTF!!!! A HUGE win for Pierre Botha with the KO o/t Night, but more concerning was the time it took for Referee Brad Bloch to get to the downed fighter, allowing Botha to land a number of additional punches to a Roets that was already in “la-la land” following that initial left hook! This writer is also led to believe that Roets had suffered a KO in training leading up to the fight – unconfirmed at this stage.

A Main Card that stuttered…

Following on the disappointing prelims, the Main Card promised to be a real banger……First up was the eagerly anticipated stand-up brawl between Gordon Roodman and Justin Smith. The initial “bombs” thrown by both fighters was just warming the fans up and then………one of the worst decisions I have seen in an EFC cage, handed the fight to Roodman due to the disqualification of Smith for apparent “intentional illegal strikes” to the back of the head! 

WTF!! When did behind the ear become the back of the head????

What makes this entire decision even more farcical is that only weeks earlier the very same group of officials determined a win decision at EWC 11 – an amateur fight promotion – after consulting a video replay! Where was VAR on Saturday at EFC 77? And again, could someone please tell me when, behind the ear become the back of the head?

Returning after more than a year away from the cage, Alain Ilunga was pushed to the very end by EFC debutant Lukasz Swirydowicz, resulting in a unanimous points decision victory for Ilunga as well as deserved FotN performance bonuses for both athletes.

The shallow Light Heavyweight division showed some signs of revival with the return to SA of TF1 contender Shawn Dean to face-off against SA’s Quinton Rossouw. With Dean not having gone past the first round in any of his first 4 professional fights and Rossouw, not having been properly tested in his first 2 professional fights, this writer believed that this would be a test that Rossouw may not pass. 

Boy, was I WRONG! Rossouw pulled off a spectacular 2ndround TKO win over a fast-fading Dean and in so doing, secured himself a shot at the vacant Light Heavyweight title………Really!?

It was then the turn of the TITLE FIGHTS – HOOODALALLY!!!!

First up, was the disastrous Heavyweight Title fight between elevated interim Heavyweight Champ Jared Vanderaa and Ricky Misholas. From the first hooter, it was clear that Vanderaa came to secure the title of “undisputed”, while for Misholas, I am not quite sure what he came to do? His strategy of targeting the mid-section of Vanderaa with jabs along with very little movement left him open to the strong counter of The Mountain, which would eventually lead to a 2ndround TKO victory for Vanderaa and should most certainly set up a MASSIVE Heavyweight clash between Jared Vanderaa and Stuart Austin!

The main event of EFC 77 was the “no grudge bout” between the former Lightweight Champion, SA’s Martin van Staden, and the UK’s Joe Cummins. In the build-up to this fight, I was stunned to learn that the preparation for this fight had essentially been the first ever fully professional fight camp that Joe Cummins had experienced. That fact alone made me sit a little closer to the edge of my chair and what a view I had…..

Not quite the stand-up WAR that many fans had expected, with Cummins showing that he is just as proficient in the grappling aspects of the sport. As much as Van Staden tried, he just could not execute much of his fight-plan resulting in a unianimous points decision victory for Cummins and with that, yet another EFC strap was on its way out of the country.

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