We have the breakdown of what went down at EFC Africa 12; FLUX Mag was there to capture all the action…
Francois Groenewald vs. Dino Bertolis (Featherweight) – [Winner: Bertolis via decision]
On a mission to rebound from a setback in the form of Abdul Hassan at EFC Africa 10, Springs grappler, Groenewald set out to derail the super slick Bertolis, previously Bertolis bested Groenewald as an amateur.
The fight opened with the athletes exchanging some good strikes , notably with Groenewald having upped his standup game, but Bertolis seeming a little crisper on the shots landed.
Bertolis secured a good takedown, which Groenewald fought back up to standing and where he pushed the pace, landing some great strikes. Both upped the tempo, going blow for blow, until they clinched up and the better inside work was landed by Bertolis. Groenewald tied Bertolis up and dragged them to the ground where they fought back to standing to end off the round.
The second round started well with some strikes, some clinch work, to the ground (with good ground ‘n pound by Bertolis) and back up again, and Bertolis started dictating the pace on strikes. The round ended on the mat where Groenewald missed a guillotine, and Bertolis finished off with some ground ‘n pound.
The final round saw Bertolis pushing the pace again, with both landing some strikes, clinching up, dropping to the ground and fighting back up. This sequence continued, but Bertolis’ strikes were taking their toll and Groenewald then shot in for several takedowns, which were all twarted by Bertolis. When on the ground, Bertolis managed to land the more precise shots, and the final round ended well.
The decision went to the judges who unanimously decided on Bertolis as the victor.
Koba Iakobidze vs. Gareth Buirski (Featherweight) – [Winner: Buirski via guillotine]
The second fight was a duel between the debuts of heavy handed C.I.T product Koba Iakobidze and former amateur MMA kingpin Gareth Buirski.
The bout started of with Iakobidze stalking his opponent and Buirski cautiously circling. They exchanged some good strikes (Iakobidze landing more) until they clinched where Buirski engaged a little more as he began to pick up the pace. Buirski then snagged a great takedown and slam, landed in side control and sunk in a tight arm-triangle choke. Iakobidze arduously fought out of it, reversed position and got a full mount to dropping in some solid ground ‘n pound. Buirski managed to escape the assault, resumed on the feet and they fought to standing to end off the round.
The second round saw Iakobidze pushing the pace and accuracy on strikes until they clinched, and he executed a superb hip toss. They were jockeying for position on the mat until Buirski sunk in a near fight-ending guillotine, followed by a triangle, which Iakobidze just barely escaped, to finish off the round.
The third round had Buirski getting loose on the feet and threatening with strikes, however, Iakobidze still landed the more precise shots. Buirski shot in for a takedown, just missing a guillotine, but as they fought to standing he scrapped it out to sink in a standing guilotine. Buirski tightened the choke by pulling guard and coaxed a tapout from Iakobidze– it was a good all-round fight.
Wade Henderson vs. Josh Muller (Welterweight) – [Winner: Henderson via TKO, ground ‘n pound]
This was a match that has been spewing venom for months as the chirps flew back and forth on social networks between MMA veteran Henderson and the Godfather MMA representative, Muller. The pre-fight interviews were hilarious with Henderson wearing a pink shirt with the words, “Jedi’s are gay” on it, and Muller walking out to the song “Barbie Girl”.
The fight started with Henderson showboating and getting caught with a flurry of strikes by Muller, for his efforts. They scrambled cage side and ended up on the ground, with Muller on top and in Henderson’s guard. Muller attempted a kimura, but Henderson avoided it and got back up to his feet. Again Henderson showboated and Muller shot in and they ended up on the ground with Muller in his guard. Henderson scrambled well , reversed the position with some vintage bjj, mounting on Muller who then cowered as he gave his back. Henderson unleashed an onslaught of punches until Muller verbally and physically tapped out.
Marcus Taljaard vs. Ryan van Niekerk (Lightweight) – [Winner: Ryan van Niekerk via decision]
After two changes of opponents van Niekerk had aspirations of making an impressive EFC Africa debut at the expense of the very tough and durable Marcus Taljaard, who incidentally also made his EFC Africa debut.
The pace was slow, with the two feeling each other out. There were very selective and precise shots landed by both, and some short but explosive exchanges now and then. van Niekerk was dropped during one of the exchanges and they went to the mat, but he recovered fast and side mounted Taljaard. It turned out that van Niekerk broke his hand in this round.
The second and third rounds were much the same, with each picking precise strikes and then both exchanging a flurry of punches in quick in-and-out battles. van Niekerk started landing side-stepping jabs, earning him the points, and even tried to up the tempo by throwing a flying knee, but they went straight into a clinch and then went back into some occasional explosive flurries.
The decision went to the judges and the win went to van Niekerk.
Boyd Allen vs. Donald Nzirawa (Wade Groth injured) (Lightweight) – [Winner: Allen via decision]
FFM’s latest recruit Boyd Allen sought to impress in his EFC Africa debut in a bout with the Black Dragons kimura hunter, Donald Nzirawa.
The fight was dictated largely by the fast and impressive hands of Allen. The first round saw Allen landing accurate head and body shots, which picked away at Nzirawa from the outset. Nzirawa landed a few well placed inside leg kicks and punches, but Allen persisted with his accurate striking. They then clinched where Allen landed the better knees and strikes, and they went to ground to end off the round.
The second round saw Nzirawa push a little harder in the striking, but several times Allen clinched and landed great knees, with the last exchange seeing him manage a great takedown. They grappled back and forth, but Allen landed some effective ground ‘n pound to finish off the second round strong.
In the final round Allen pushed the pace and he landed a takedown, but Nzirawa sunk in a tight arm bar which Allen then stacked up on and escaped. From standing, Allen scored with another great takedown and they went back up to standing where they fought in and out of clinches, and where Nzirawa looked somewhat out-skilled. The fight ended after another takedown by Allen, and the decision went to the judges who unanimously selected him as the victor.
Paul Kietzmann vs. Ricky Misholas (Light Heavyweight) – [Winner: Misholas via KO] – Knock Out of the Night
This was a bout between two big boys that are known for their punching power.
They started off slowly, both stalking and picking their hard shots, but soon Misholas went in with a massive flurry that forced them cage side and into a heavy fought clinch. From there Misholas got a big takedown and they fought back to standing where Misholas avoided a big punch and quickly countered forcing Kietzmann to the ground where he got into side mount. They wrestled back and forth and the intensity was huge, with lots of ground ‘n pound, a missed guillotine from Misholas and the round closed.
The second round saw an exhausted Kietzmann being taunted by the fairly less tired Misholas (there was a lot of showboating). They exchanged some punches and kicks, and Misholas landed a takedown, but allowed Kietzmann to get up. From standing they exchanged a few more kicks and punches, with Misholas landing more accurately, and eventually he landed a glancing left punch, followed by a massive overhand right which knocked Kietzmann out, ending the fight with a massive roar from the crowed.
Pete Motaung vs. JP Kruger (Middleweight) – [Winner: Kruger via triangle] – Submission of the Night
Striking lovers salivated when this bout was set up. This was also both the debuts between two crisp technical kickboxers.
As they started Kruger powered forward and the two went into a tough back and forth clinch, after some striking. Kruger pulled them to the ground and attempted an arm bar, which Motaung escaped from by slamming Kruger on his head, a number of times. Kruger then quickly transitioned for a triangle, but the ref reset the fight after an illegal move by Motaung. They started off striking and went into a clinch again, which saw Kruger pull it back to the ground, and he tried for another an arm bar, which transitioned into a mount. Motaung reversed that to escape, ending the round.
The second round saw Motaung push the standup pace with punches and kicks, but they went into a clinch again, with solid knees from both, and Kruger mounted from standing, pulling them to the ground. The ref stood them up after the pace slowed and they went back into a clinch and Kruger, again, mounted to drop them to the ground. Kruger then sunk in a triangle, and as Motaung rolled to his side to escape, Kruger followed to end up in a mounted triangle which quickly forced Motaung to tap out.
Donavin Hawkey vs. Danie van Heerden (Middleweight) – [Winner: van Heerden via jaw crank/rear naked choke]
Hawkey was originally slated to fight Tyron Rightford. After Rightford pulled out due to injury, van Heerden stepped up. The main question on everybody’s mind was, how would he fare against a juggernaut like Hawkey, who obliterated his last opponent at EFC Africa 11
They started with a good pace as Hawkey came out with a mixed flurry of punches, pushing forward, but van Heerden stayed composed and retuned with his own to slow down the pace. van Heerden then shot in for a takedown and ended up on his back chasing a leg lock. Hawkey remained standing and looked to get loose from the submission attempt. Hawkey then dropped to roll and the two fought well, landing some great some ground ‘n pound. From this position Hawkey managed to sink in a kimura and then arm bar, which looked tight, but van Heerden turned and then managed to take Hawkey’s back instead. van Heerden then sunk in a rear naked choke (Hawkey’s chin was down, so it was more of a jaw crank), and as he rolled over and flattened Hawkey out, it forced him to tap. A great win for van Heerden and an impressive return to EFC Africa for the boxer who has upped his ground game.
Sean Robinson vs. Raymond Ahana (Light Heavyweight) – [Winner: Ahana via TKO]
Tumelo Maphutha was Robinson’s original opponent. Unfortunately Maphuta was injured so Ahana snagged the opportunity to redeem a hard fought decision loss to Robinson at EFC Africa 8.
The fight was slow, with limited strikes thrown and even landed. However, Ahana looked a lot more confident, pushing the pace and stalking Robinson. The second round saw Ahana pushing the pace again, albeit slow, and as he opened with some punches he threw an uppercut and as Robinson backed off, Ahana landed a big kick to the head of Robinson, dropping him hard and forcing the ref to stop the fight. It was a good redeeming TKO win for Ahana.
Dino Bagattin vs. Michiel Opperman (Welterweight) – [Winner: Opperman via triangle choke]
Thai terror Bagattin was initially set to step up to Martin van Staden, who endured a neck injury. Heavy hitter Michiel Opperman (dropping from middleweight) jumped at the chance to try to fill the opening in an attempt to climb the welterweight ladder.
The fighters came out light on their feet and feeling each other out to start with. Once the exchanges started there were heavy strikes exchanged (mostly punches), until they clinched up and both explosively fought for a dominating position whilst landing great punches, elbows and knees. On the breakaway they kept a fair distance, picking shots and ending off the round fairly even.
The second round started off with the same picky shots being thrown, until Opperman shot in for a takedown and got Bagattin on his back. From standing, Opperman slowly took control of Bagattin’s dangerous legs and worked from his guard. They wrestled back and forth, with Opperman looking for a submission, and almost getting a rear naked choke, but then he sunk in a triangle which was in extremely tight. Opperman held onto the submission and pulled down hard on Bagattin’s head, forcing him to tap out or pass out. It was a good solid win for Opperman.
Wesley Hawkey vs. Denzil Wait (Featherweight) – [Winner: Hawkey via arm bar]
Both Hawkey and Wait have been riding on a wave of momentum after they both secured victories in their EFC Africa debuts. This clash was for all the chips as the winner got a title-shot against Demarte Pena.
This fight was very fast and explosive, from start to finish. As they met in the middle they came out blazing with a few short scraps which saw great, hard strikes exchanged by both men. Wait then shot in and missed a takedown and tried again, this time successfully. Immediately Hawkey closed the gap and set in with an arm bar that looked very tight, but Wait muscled out of it well. The two scrambled on the ground, with Wait landing some great ground ‘n pound, but again Hawkey closed the gap and took a hold of Wait’s arm and sunk in an even tighter arm bar, forcing Wait to tap – it was a convincing win for Hawkey in the co-main event.
Garreth McLellan vs. Jeremy Smith (Middleweight Title Fight) – [Winner: Smith via guillotine] – Fight of the Night
Safe to say this was one of easily the most anticipated fights in South African MMA history, with support split down the middle for the two warriors. McLellan had the daunting task of defending his middleweight belt as the rabid Smith had other plans for him.
To open, the two fighters started with some very hard, precise kicks and punches, until they clinched up and wrestled around and where McLellan dropped in for a successful takedown. Smith managed to power the fight back up to standing, but McLellan fought them to the mat again. They got back to standing and as they collided and went into a clinch, Smith tried to flip McLellan, but was out-powered and McLellan secured a brilliant hip toss. Again they fought back up to standing and they ensued with some intense exchanges, with crisp punching, hard kicks and some great clinch wars. It must be said that McLellan looked like a new fighter all-round, and Smith looked like he was in for a good war.
Into the second round they started with some great exchanges, McLellan leading with great kicks (seemingly to the body, but connecting with Smith’s head), and some precise punches. Smith landed a solid punch which dropped McLellan and he looked to fight from above (standing), until the ref reset the fight for an illegal head kick/stomp (possibly mistakenly). McLellan straight away shot in for a takedown, which Smith reversed and they got back up to standing. He did it again and this time scored a huge takedown and got to side mount and then a full mount. Smith scrambled well to escape, but gave up his back where McLellan fought to sink in a rear naked choke. Smith defended very well and escaped to get them standing and they ended the round clinching and wrestling cage side.
The third round started with a better pace from McLellan, with Smith looking a little flat footed and frustrated. From their short explosive exchanges they clinched up and McLellan seemed to be more effective with striking knees. They broke off to scrap it out with some great punching, knees from McLellan, and punches from both. One of the exchanges saw Smith land some great body and head shots as they tied up cage side – this ended the final round as the moved into championship rounds.
In the fourth round McLellan, still looking a little fresher of the two, shot in for a double leg takedown and in doing so exposed his neck (something Smith seemed to be expecting) and Smith immediately absorbed the takedown and sunk in a guillotine as they hit the mat. The tight choke soon got the better of McLellan and he tapped out giving the middleweight belt to the new champion, Smith.
This was one of the best fights to watch to date, and one which certainly showcased unbelievable sportsmanship from both fighters.
EFC Africa 13, taking place on 13 April 2012, will see the first EFC Africa event happening outside of Joburg, taking it to the Mother City for an epic event at GrandWest Casino’s Grand Arena. The main event of the evening pits reigning welterweight champion Dallas Jakobi against Jadyson Costa, a fearsome Brazilian export now fighting out of the Cape of Storms. Also on the card, heavyweight wrecking machines Bernardo Mikixi vs. Calven Robinson, and dangerous lightweight strikers Leon Mynardt vs. Don Madge. Tickets are already on sale via Computicket, so make sure not to miss this one!
Photos by Ruby Wolff/EFC Africa