This past weekend in Durban was one for the record books. Well if not for anyone else, at least a keeper in my personal memory bank of awesomeness. Now if only we had a Dropbox equivalent for our memories, so that we can relive passed events without any muddled hindsight. I am sure Google or Facebook are working on this. To be honest I am still processing the whole experience, but this piece needs to be up, so that you brilliant people that are reading this that missed the live EFC event, can get an idea of what went down.
I was privileged enough to be back stage for parts of the event and got some rather amazing insight into what is actually put into running an event of this magnitude. I am not going to go into those boring details, but it really is amazing to just sit back now and appreciate how well run and efficient the EFC is in comparison to every other promotion I have been involved in. There is always room for improvement, but still brilliant.
Onto the events themselves. The weigh ins were the typical weird mix of tension, hunger, excitement and crowd cheering that I know from the Cape Town events. The Durban crowd definitely made a massive noise and filled the place out to the point that there was not enough room for all of them.
The second fight with the only Cape Tonian representative Luke Michael in his EFC debut against Texier Kabesa was rather memorable for me. Many of the reasons already having been mentioned in the previous sentence. Luke came out looking a little nervous in the fight, but managed his distance and timing pretty well. He started picking off Kabesa with his striking until, Kabesa decided he had had enough and went for the take down. He landed in Luke’s guard and began his wrestling. Luke showed off his prowess on the ground here with his defence and then a sneaky attack. He started shifting his hips and legs to go for an Omoplata and as Kabesa moved to defend he it, Michaels changed the angles and set in a triangle. Kabesa fought it for a little and then tapped out. This won Michaels the ‘Submission of the Night’ award.
Bernardo Mikixi vs Donovan Hawkey was a big bout on many levels. Obviously the literal that they are big guys. Added in with BamBamz pending retirement and weigh in antics from Bernardo it really had a sense of occasion. Besides for the unfortunate incidence of the illegal elbows to Bernardo’s head it was overall rather entertaining. The majority of the time was spent in the clinch with body punching and knees. This pretty much played directly into Bambamz game plan of resting his weight on Mikixi. This brings me to my point. Bernardo physically looked impressive. But quite evidently, the weight cut was too much for him and he has not had time to get used to his new physique. BamBamz is a really big guy for light heavyweight and the size difference showed and took its toll early on. I think Mikixi lost on strategy here though, not so much due to size and skill. He allowed Hawkey to decide where and when and never really made him uncomfortable. He did throw some great body shots, but they were all aimed with his right at Hawkey’s left side. While yes you can still hurt your opponent like that, I would generally advise one to aim for the right side and hit that liver. It has a much bigger effect on the receiver’s body and you will see that slowing affect very quickly.
Looking at the van Staden vs Smith bout, we have pretty much the same situation. The bigger guy playing his game perfectly and the smaller, powerful inside fighter Smith, not able to do what he needed to. ‘The Punisher’ fought a near perfect fight. Using awkward jumping teeps/up kicks to keep Smith off balance and at a distance. Eventually catching him with that incredible left hook. Just a brilliant strategy from van Staden’s camp. But as with Mikixi, Smith looked pap and makes me wonder if the cut was too much for him. For a first time at least, next time his body will be more adapted.
This whole weight cut thing and it affecting fighters performances has really been in the spotlight this week from UFC 177 with the Renan Barao incident of him passing out during his cut. There clearly needs to be some sort of regulation on what is an acceptable and safe amount of weight to be cut. Clearly, fighters and their management are not looking after them selves or performing cuts correctly. There is always more than just what we see, and with new regulations brings new behaviors as a reaction that need to be contemplated. But this is a conversation that needs to happen domestically as it is something that is going to hurt the sport in the future.
Some matchups I would like to see going forward. In the bantam weights, it’s great that they are giving Irshaad to Abdul Hassan. However, I would prefer to have seen Cedric Doyle vs Sayed. Then again, Sayed does need to be tested on the ground. I do feel that Doyle, stylistically, would have been far more entertaining though. With those two facing each other, it would also give a far clearer picture as to who would be the number one ranked athlete in the division.
EFC boss man Cairo Howarth mentioned in the press conference that Wade Groth would be getting a title shot against Boyd Allen. I am not convinced he, or the other two prospects are ready. I would like to see Groth face either Hawkey or preferably Chelin. Boyd has already beaten Hawkey, so am patient before that rematch. As much as I want to see Boyd back in the Hex, I don’t see Groth or Chelin quite ready, and a big fight prior will definitely help with preparation for him.
Themba Gorimbo, Igue Kabesa & Sibusisu Mdoko are all names that have been making waves in the lower ranks of the lightweight division. Throw Costa Ioannou & Frederich Naumann into this mix and we could see a lot of potential magnificent match ups and I am sure a new title contender can be worked out from them. This division is just so deep, so much possibility.
What match ups would you guys like to see? Not just potential title fights but exciting bouts in general?