EFC concludes year on high note

ONE FOR YOU: Welterweight champion Dricus du Plessis (right) succesfully taking on Polish middleweight Rafal Haratyk, during EFC 56 at Carnival City. Photo: Anton Geyser/EFC Worldwide/Gallo Images

ELEVEN phenomenal fights capped off a year of intense MMA action for the EFC organisation, at Carnival City on Friday December 9.

Welterweight champion Dricus du Plessis took a gamble in taking on middleweight Rafal Haratyk.

Du Plessis took the fight to the Pole from the start, setting up moments of heavy trading, with both standing in the pocket and unleashing combinations. Haratyk was calm and seemed the deadliest of the two in the first round, easily absorbing the pressure and ending the round looking better.

It was in the second round that du Plessis’ legendary stamina took over. Still attacking hard, he defended two deep guillotine attempts before reversing the position on the floor – and sinking a guillotine of his own. Haratyk was bleeding from the elbow, ground and pound. The sold out arena were on their feet as Haratyk tapped, giving du Plessis a massive scalp in a division above his own.

The middleweight title fight between champion Yannick Bahati and challenger David Buirski brought with it a ton of hype. Buirski tried to stay out of range of the massive Englishman with long-range punches and kicks. The tactic brought some success, although both took punishment. In the second round, Buirski allowed Bahati to get too close. Buirski couldn’t resist the pressure or the power of Bahiti’s ground game – and the referee stopped the fight due to ground and pound.

Igeu Kabesa defending his featherweight title against Hanru Botha, was always a mouth-watering idea. Both are highly decorated wrestlers with big knock-out wins behind them. The fight started with hard punches landing on both – and quickly evolved into a thrilling scene of one-for-one, huge takedown and scramble wrestling. But it was Kabesa who had the extra weapon. He finished Botha with a guillotine choke.

Kabesa now moves to 8-0 and is looking for a new opponent. As he has moved from his previous camp at Fight Fit Militia, the idea of him versus Boyed Allen was floated at the press conference afterwards.

Wesley Hawkey and the UK’s Azi Thomas faced off in a fight that most thought would be decided by boxing, but Hawkey surprised by scoring a takedown in the first round. The move backfired, as Thomas showed a slick ground game – and put the South African away with a rear naked choke.

Martin van Staden opened the night’s main card. Trailing by two losses, both of them title fights, he was perfectly in control. He took Kaleka Kabanda to school, producing patient and brutal all-round MMA.

Elbows and well placed kicks started the damage ticking over, and led to Kabanda dropping after a huge right hand. He was then finished by ground and pound in the second round.

Preceding the main card were six epic fights, delivering unforgettable highlights.

Bokang Masunyane made his EFC debut in the first fight of the evening. He dropped jaws with thumping take downs, blistering ground and pound plus somersaults, to celebrate a first round win.

Danella Eliasov pulled off one the biggest come-from-behind upsets in EFC history. She took a bloody beating from Spaniard Irene Rivera in the first round. With impossible grit, she ground out a dominant second round, forcing Rivera’s corner to throw in the towel before the third.

Gordon Roodman landed one of his legendary overhand rights against Mark Hulme, rocking the younger man right down to the soles of his feet. Instead of dropping, Hulme shook his head, smirked and laid on a beating, taking a win via a rear naked choke.

Fight of the Night was awarded to Dricus du Plessis vs Rafal Haratyk. Performance bonuses were awarded to Bokang Masunayne, TC Khusu, Danella Eliasov and Jacqualine Trosee.

All eyes now turn to EFC 57: Dalcha vs Opperman, which will take place on Saturday, March 4 at Carnival City.

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Annette van Schalkwyk

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