You asked for fireworks and fireworks you received. EFC Africa 18 showcased some world-class MMA action as the continent’s best fighters threw down to stamp their marks as the best of the best. Hard hitter Gareth Buirski went head to head with BJJ specialist Abdul Hassan and Andrew Van Zyl sought to dethrone the heavyweight champion Ruan Potts. This is how it went down…
Charlie Weyer vs. Donavin Wilken (bantamweight) – [Winner: Weyer via split decision]
This match was historic as it was the first bantamweight fight in the history of EFC Africa. In round one, Wilken moved well getting in an out with leg kicks but got caught in a standing guillotine. He defended by kneeing the legs of Weyer. He pinned Weyer against the cage for a sizeable portion of the round and then got a takedown. Weyer made Wilken work hard for the mount and defended his kimura attempt. Round two saw Wilken adapt a similar approach. He got an early takedown but was eventually neutralised on the ground until the referee stood them up. Weyer remained composed and tenacious, avoiding some of the kicks and returning fire, even landing a hard body shot. In the final stanza, Wilken came out firing more leg kicks. Weyer landed a kick of his own to Wilken’s body which made a loud slapping sound. Wilken got the takedown again and worked some ground and pound but Weyer did not sit stagnant, moved a lot, throwing lots of punches and elbows from his guard and even got a sweep. All in all, a very close fight with Weyer winning a razor thin split decision win.
Peter Nyide vs. Frederich Naumann (lightweight) – [Winner: Naumann via triangle choke]
Both fighters entered their bouts with a lot of hype previously garnered and rightfully so. The fight got off to a frantic pace with both men trying to take each other’s heads off with some frantic exchanges with Naumann coming off as the crisper striker. He threw some powerful leg kicks off his back leg until one of them cracked Nyide in the groin which a prompted a timeout. When the fight resumed, Nyide looked for a takedown but Naumann countered with a beautiful headlock throw with crafty Nyide reversing the position. Nauman then set up a textbook triangle and adjusted it for about 45 seconds until he sunk it in tightly earning him the submission victory.
Tumelo Maputha vs. Chris Du Pont (light heavyweight) – [Winner: Maputha via KO]
Maputha walked out, hungry for redemption and redemption he received. As the fight started he gonged and dashed, landed a crushing right straight to Du Pont, earning him a seven second knockout. Incidentally that proved to be the fastest knockout in EFC Africa history.
David Van Schalkwyk vs. Juan Lubbe (welterweight) – [Winner: Lubbe via TKO]
As soon as the bell sounded, Van Schalkwyk quickly clinched with his opponent, following through with a slick footsweep and ending up in side control. Lubbe appeared to be the much stronger of the two and rolled his foe with ease and took side control. Van Schalkwyk scrambled to half guard and attempted a guillotine but lost it. He got back to full guard. Lubbe showcased more of his brute strength by lifting Van Schalkwyk about waist high and slamming him with immense ferocity and began to rain down hard punches for nearly a minute until the referee stopped the fight. The fight should have been stopped a lot earlier as Van Schalkwyk could have potentially suffered a serious injury.
Wilhelm Strauss vs. Christopher Walravens (heavyweight) – [Winner: Strauss via TKO]
Both combatants entered this heavyweight tilt with a lot of pressure riding on them. Strauss had been on a losing streak and Walravens was making his début in the big show. Strauss started off with a sense of urgency as he began to swing with bad intentions. He landed terrific knees on Walravens and some thundering right straights. Impressively he connected with a hard teep to Walravens mouth and dropped him, coaxing the referee to jump in.
Gideon Drotschie vs. Brendon Groenewald (light heavyweight) – [Winner: Drotschie via TKO]
This bout raised immense intrigue when it was announced as both men are solid grapplers and are the prodigies of local BJJ legends Rico Hattingh and Dave Levey (respectively). For the duration of the bout there were some decent exchanges but Drotschie showed superior grappling skills and took the fight to the ground in all three rounds. He landed solid ground and pound but Groenewald proved to be resilient and escaped some harrowing positions and submission attempts. In the final round, Groenewald’s face was a bloody mess and fell prey to more ground and pound from Drotschie until the referee stopped the fight. Drotschie definitely ended that fight in emphatic fashion and sent a grim message to the rest of the light heavyweight division.
Ricky Misholas vs. Sors Grobelaar (heavyweight) – [Winner: Grobelaar via split decision]
In round one, Misholas was the early aggressor as he came out throwing bombs. The fight quickly saw some massive exchanges between the two titans. He landed a great punch which dropped Grobelaar but he did not follow up for the finish. They again exchanged hard leather with Misholas getting the better of the exchanges. Grobelaar took a lot of punishment, but kept fighting, even landing some good shots of his own. By the time the round drew to a close, Grobelaar’s face was visibly battered. In the second round, Grobelaar started throwing kicks to keep Misholis at bay. There was an unintentional eye poke which prompted a timeout. When they resumed, Grobelaar took Misholas down and landed in full guard. He quickly moved into a full mount, but Misholas escaped and got back to his feet. The round drew to a close with him landing heavier punches. The final round was a little slower as both men were severely gassed. Grobelaar pressed forward with more kicks, but ate a heavy punch from Misholas who hunted for the knockout but the round closed. It was a close fight and the judges called it a split decision in favour of Grobelaar.
Dallas Jakobi vs. Johan Van Staden (lightweight) – [split draw]
The fight started off with a fast pace with Van Staden landing the better shots and stuffing a take down. He landed some good punches even rocking Jakobi who recovered and threw good counter kicks. He then landed a takedown but Van Staden reversed and landed in full mount to end off the round. In the second round, there were a few short exchanges and Van Staden got another takedown, and ended up inside of full guard. Van Staden escaped a solid guillotine and arm bar attempt, and then both men jockeyed for position on the ground. In the final round, there were some good punches landed by Van Staden. Jakobi shot in but ended up on the wrong end of the takedown. He rolled Van Staden and ended up in his guard. Jakobi then worked his ground and pound until the fight drew to a close. It was a closely matched fight and ended in a split draw.
Jason Culverwell vs. Danie Van Heerden (light heavyweight) – [Winner: Van Heerden via rear naked choke]
With a step up in competition, many wondered how Culverwell would fare against the very dangerous Van Heerden. The round began with Culverwell coming in with punches. After an exchange Culverwell unsuccessfully attempted a takedown. Van Heerden countered with a hip toss and landed in full mount, eventually transitioning to Culverwell’s back. He then sunk in the fight ending rear naked choke.
JP Kruger vs. Donavin Hawkey (middleweight) – [Winner: Kruger via armbar ]
After some a few exchanges to open the fight, both men clinched. There was a bit of dirty boxing action but then Hawkey got a takedown. Kruger immediately spun to sink in an armbar and earned a submission victory
Tyrone Rightford vs. David Buirski (welterweight) – [Winner: via TKO]
The fight begun with good exchanges by both men. Buirski moved in closer to get into clinch, and accidentally landed a groin shot, which prompted a timeout. When they resumed, Rightford landed a solid overhand right, behind the left ear of Buirski, which rocked and dropped him. Rightford continued to unload a barrage of strikes while lunging over a crumpled Buirski, the referee had no choice but to soon stop it.
Abdul Hassan vs. Gareth Buirski (featherweight) – [Winner: Hassan via majority decision]
After a war of words on social media and a very aggressive stare down at the weigh in, both men were baying for blood. To the surprise of everybody, Hassan came out in a southpaw stance. Both men took a while to engage. Buirski threw a small flurry of punches but Hassan easily avoided it by getting out of range. They then clinched and Hassan got a single leg takedown. He then sat in Buirski’s half guard and attempted to ground and pound. In round two, both men circle and threw leg kicks which landed. Hassan threw wild lead head kicks and Buirski countered with a right cross but Hassan does not seem to be fazed. Buirski backed up Hassan with a flurry and Hassan shot for a double leg but got caught in a guillotine. He stayed calm and kept driving until he put Buirski on his back and began to work more ground and pound. The referee then stood them up. Both men looked gassed and flat footed. Buirski threw some strikes but Hassan craftily blocked them. He then returned fire with a series of kicks and Buirski countered with a haymaker. They ended up in a plum and then broke. In the final stanza, Hassan attempted to hug his opponent but Buirski was not having any of that. Buirski shot out a body kick and Hassan returned the favour by throwing his own leg kicks and a side kick. The kicks appeared to have taken a toll on Buirski’s spring. The crowd began to get restless as the fighters were just circling and throwing random kicks. Buirski then exploded with a flurry but Hassan got the bodylock/trip takedown. He then worked ground and pound from top half guard position until the round drew to a close. Hassan got the nod via a majority decision.
EFC Africa Heavyweight Championship
Ruan Potts vs. Andrew Van Zyl (heavyweight) – [Winner: Van Zyl via unanimous decision]
In round one Potts came out guns blazing, landing some hard punches and quickly hiptossed Van Zyl. He ended up in Van Zyl’s closed guard but the referee eventually stood them up. Potts moved forward throwing hard kicks and they clinched a bit and backed out again. After some solid exchanges he then took Van Zyl down again. Van Zyl locked in a very tight armbar from guard but Potts escaped. In the second round Van Zyl turned it up a gear and took Potts down. After some good exchanges of position on the ground they were stood up by the referee. Van Zyl scored another takedown and landed some strong ground and pound. In the third round they clinched after a few brief exchanges. The fight soon hit the ground with Van Zyl in mount and then taking Pott’s back. Potts warded of Van Zyl’s choke attempts and they got back to their feet, working from a clinch. In the fourth round, Van Zyl took Potts down again and transitioned from guard to mount and worked more ground and pound. In the final round, Potts knew he was down on points and was looking for the knockout. He threw some hard kicks and they then clinched. Both men threw stiff knees and punches and then Van Zyl took Potts down once more, moving from top half guard to full mount to land some more ground and pound. Van Zyl redeemed himself and earned a unanimous decision.
Photos by Ruby Wolf/EFC Africa