EFC 80: The Fight Night That Promised So Much!

Written by on July 1, 2019

Hope is a terrible thing! The build-up to EFC80 could quite possibly be summarised as a culmination of a long-standing series of events; firstly, the showdown between Conrad Seabi and Luke Michael. Secondly, the #TF2 Finale which would determine the contender for the Ladies Flyweight Strap.Thirdly, the much anticipated return of Garreth “Soldierboy” McLellan, arguably the man responsible for putting South African MMA on the global stage and finally, the chance for Brendon Lesar to justify his claim rightful claim at a title shot.

However, just like much of our current sport, our hopes ended up dashed – reminiscent of tattered World Cup dreams and goalless continental aspirations.

Billed as the “Biggest Event of the Year”, EFC80 was reduced from 11 fights to 8 bouts, fans were clearly not happy, showing their displeasure on Social Media with many mocking those who had spent their hard-earned cash on tickets to the event.

I cannot recall the last time I witnessed an EFC event with just 3 Prelim bouts, in fact I do not think it has ever happened!

That said, the first 2 bouts were impressive spectacles with both going to the judges and both being won by split decision. Duanne Jones showed impressive heart and cardio resulting in his first EFC victory. For Tommy Strydom, despite surviving countless submission attempts he seemed pretty much a spent force going into the second round and did a fantastic job surviving the full fight.

The bout between Adrian Sanchez and Serge Kasanda, if nothing else, showed the sheer brute power that Kasanda has at his disposal and boy did he need it all in that split decision win.

The final bout of the Prelims, lived up to many expectations with ‘HHH’ Djikasa ensuring the continuation of Ivan Strydom’s record of never surviving a full first round in his professional career.

The Main Bouts kicked-off with what, in my opinion, was set to be a very one-sided fight between former title contender, Sylvester Chipfumbu and rising talent Fafa Dwama. True to expectations, the fight was like watching a cat play with a mouse, with Chipfumbu needing to make a big mistake to let slip what was set to be a dominating return to winning ways. As if written in the script of a Hollywood blockbuster, it would be a disqualification – due to an illegal kick to the head of a grounded opponent – that would see Sylvester Chipfumbu hand Fafa Dwama an impossible victory.

The bantamweight bout between Devon Cronje and Guy Mongambi showed just how exciting this division can be. The almost effortless performance from Cronje ensured an easy 2ndround TKO victory for him. The win for Cronje puts him on a collision course with recently married teammate JP Buys (if he decides to stay) and one wonders if the powers that be at Coach Quan University will ever entertain this possibility although there is another permutation that fight fans ought to consider – a clash between Devon Cronje and Bokang Masunyane!?

Saxon Delafield against Marcel Els had all the ingredients of a classic war of styles, with Delafield preferring to turn-off his opponents lights with his hands while Els’ preference lay firmly vested in his ground game. For 40-odd seconds, fans were treated to all-out intensity until Delafield locked in the armbar to continue his impressive run.

Luke Michael’s withdrawal from EFC 80 due to anomalies being found during his pre-fight brain scan put paid to the fact that the contest between him and Seabi would forever be one of words and on the basis of what this writer experienced, the war of words was most certainly won by Seabi. What now for the Welterweight Grand Prix????

The Main Events of EFC 80 were spectacular for their own very specific reasons!

The #TF2 Finale did not live up to all the pre-event hype as Manon Fiorot executed a perfect “kick-it-til-it-struggles-to-walk” strategy before resorting to a “punches-in-bunches” ground attack to win via a 3rdround TKO in what was truly a one-sided fight between the two best #TF2 athletes. For all her experience both at amateur and professional level, Mellony Geugjes was out-kicked, out-punched and simply outclassed on the night. The win for Fiorot sets up a tantalising encounter between herself and the flyweight Champ, Amanda Lino – scheduled to take place at EFC 83 in December.

The Main Event of EFC 80 – Coach vs Coach or the Legend vs the Promised One – for the interim middleweight strap, also promised so much only to deliver so little.

Speaking to McLellan’s striking coach a few days before the fight, filled me with a sense of anticipation at the prospect of seeing him showcase his prowess with both hands in what was expected to be a great stand-up battle. The opening exchanges showed a very relaxed and confident McLellan landing punches with pinpoint accuracy, that was until just after the halfway mark of the first round. It was at that point that Lesar landed a “much-practiced” over-hand left and in doing so has potentially ended the career of a South African MMA legend but has also written the opening chapters of a legacy for himself that teeters on a knife edge as his next opponent is non other than reigning middleweight champion Dricus du Plessis. The win moves Lesar to 3-0 in professional MMA and he will need every second of that punchy kicky experience if he expects to dethrone the current champ – a man who refused to deliver on the title shot promises made out of #TF1.

For the returning legend, many are asking whereto-from-here for McLellan, because this is most certainly not the way we want to see him end his remarkable career.

In summary, EFC has much work to do, with only 3 events left for the year and the possibility of seeing any of their international stars back on SA shores a slim prospect, they are reliant on their locally based athletes to create ticket-selling cards and memorable events.

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