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EFC 31 delivered one of the most exciting MMA displays seen on African soil


Words: EFC Africa

Last night's EFC 31 event at the Coca-Cola Dome, Johannesburg, was one for the record books. Headlining the evening was the title bout between bantamweight champion Nkazimulo ‘Zuluboy’ Zulu and challenger Demarte ‘The Wolf’ Pena, in which Pena took victory by unanimous decision over five championship rounds.

Pena had everything to fight for, as not only was he hoping to claim the bantamweight title, but having relinquished his featherweight title last year he stood to be the first man in history to hold an EFC title in two weight divisions.

Predictions for the bout had been that Pena would outsize and outpower Zulu, having dropped down from a heavier division. Many believed he would smother him with an overwhelming, wrestling based onslaught.

Pena had added to that prediction with the sentiment, “I’m going to make him work. Every second. I’m going to make it dirty for him.”

Pena carried out his plan to absolute perfection, showing an unbending will to push forward despite any odds. Zulu put on a brave defense, resisting the challenger’s submission attempts and ground and pound for five rounds, as well as landing punishing strikes on the rare occasions he was able to find his feet.

Pena is now the most successful athlete in EFC history. He holds multiple records: He was the youngest athlete to be crowned champion (21 years), he holds the record for the most successful title defenses (five at featherweight), the longest undefeated run (9-0), and now adds having held a title in two different divisions.

Preceding the title bout, EFC 31 delivered one of the most exciting MMA displays seen on African soil.

The light heavyweight bout between Tumelo ‘The Truck’ Maphutha versus Danie ‘Pitbull’ van Heerden was a fight that generated a mountain of interest. Maphutha is a devastating striker while Van Heerden is old school tough, having fought through a broken wrist in the past and possessing a respected boxing pedigree.

Their bout mesmerized the crowd, with Maphutha slowly and methodically tearing Van Heerden apart. His kicks landed with a thud that echoed through the arena, while his lighting fast jabs and intermittent crosses snapped Van Heerden’s head back in a haze of blood and sweat. Van Heerden would not go down, and smiled as the injury toll mounted. Maphutha took the bout by unanimous decision and sent a brutal message out to his division.

Former heavyweight champion Andrew ‘One Gear’ van Zyl returned to the Hexagon for the first time after his loss of the title, and faced Elvis ‘The Bomber’ Moyo. Moyo is the current African boxing champion and revered for his punching speed, power and accuracy. Van Zyl showed all his experience in closing the distance soon, and dominating on the ground. He battered Moyo with elbows and punches before calmly sinking an inescapable armbar.

Hanru Botha made use of his African wrestling champion skill in meeting the boxing prowess of Wesley Hawkey. A wrestler since the age of four, he smothered Hawkey against the canvas for the most part. When given just a sliver of a chance, Hawkey scored with surgical strikes that rocked the wrestler, both standing and from his back on the ground. Blood flowed after a clash of heads, colouring a fight that went to the depths of grit. It took the judges to choose a victor, handing a majority decision to Hawkey - no doubt convinced by his constant work on the ground.

Cedric Doyle and Matthew Buirski had everything to fight for after a week of hard talking from both camps. Buirski added to the controversy by missing weight at weigh-in, causing Doyle to promise to take both his money (by purse deduction) and hand Buirski a beating when they met. Doyle pressured Buirksi throughout but found it nearly impossible to get inside his opponent’s longer reach. His reward came in the third, however, when he broke through with a right hand that dropped Buirski, allowing Doyle to swarm in with punches, and clinch a decision victory.

The night’s performance awards were spread between the main and Ster-Kinekor Prelim Card. Submission of the night went to Tyson Chelin for his ankle lock victory over Leo Gloss. Knock out of the night went to Brendon Katz for his TKO of Nelson Feiteira. Fight of the night was awarded to the catchweight bout between Hanru Botha and Wesley Hawkey. Performance bonuses were also awarded to Sizwe Mnikathi, Tumisang Madiba, Nelson Feiteira, Brendon Katz and Danie van Heerden.

EFC 31 full results are:
Tumisang Madiba defeated Sizwe Mnikathi via majority decision.
Craig Ninow defeated Marino Cutendana via submission (Triangle Choke) 4:00 into round 1.
Lourens Botes defeated Baldwin Mdlalose via submission (RNC) 2:03 into round 2.
Warren Allison defeated Jason Culverwell via submission (Arm Triangle) 3:46 into round 1.
Tyson Chelin defeated Leo Gloss via submission (Ankle Lock) 3:29 into round 1.
Ian Visser defeated Donavin Hawkey via submission (RNC) 2:22 into round 1.
Brendon Katz defeated Nelson Feiteira via TKO 4:55 into round 1.
Cedric Doyle defeated Matthew Buirski via unanimous decision.
Wesley Hawkey defeated Hanru Botha via majority decision.
Andrew van Zyl defeated Elvis Moyo via submission (Armbar) 3:49 into round 1.
Tumelo Maphutha defeated Danie van Heerden via unanimous decision.
Demarte Pena defeated Nkazimulo Zulu via unanimous decision.

EFC 32, presented by BetXchange.com, returns to the Carnival City Big Top Arena, Johannesburg, on Thursday 07 August 2014. Tickets on sale at www.computicket.com. Book your cinema ticket to all fights live and in state of the art digital projection at www.sterkinekor.com. Watch the entire event live, from anywhere on the globe, via online streaming at www.efcafrica.tv.

About EFC® – The Extreme Fighting Championship®
Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, EFC is the African continent’s biggest, as well as a world leading, mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation. The Extreme Fighting Championship produces 10 live events annually and has sold out some of the biggest arenas in Africa. With over 120 athletes exclusively contracted to the organisation from countries such as Angola, the DRC, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and both sides of the Sahara desert, EFC showcases the greatest warriors on the continent. EFC events are broadcast live in over 110 countries around the world on nine television networks in multiple languages, as well as live and in state of the art digital projection at Ster-Kinekor cinema theatres through South Africa. EFC programming is available weekly in 600+ million TV households worldwide, making it one of the most recognisable MMA brands on the planet. Leading retailers stock a full catalogue of best-selling EFC DVD’s, branded merchandise and clothing and equipment ranges.

For more information visit efcafrica.com, or follow us at facebook.com/efcafrica and Twitter: twitter.com/EFCAFRICA. For TV broadcasters in your country visit: efc_africa_tv_schedule.php.