South African MMA star Don Madge feels a responsibility to build on the exploits of Garreth McLellan and company in the UFC.
Madge (8-3-1) enjoyed a dream debut in the promotion as he knocked American Te Edwards (6-2) out with a second-round head kick in Moncton, Canada on October 27.
The former EFC lightweight champion earned a $50 000 performance bonus for his efforts, as he notably joined compatriots McLellan (13-6) and Trevor Prangley (34-11) in registering wins in the octagon.
Fellow Saffas Ruan Potts (11-7), Neil Grove (12-8) and Mark Robinson (1-0) have also made the walk in the UFC, although the latter’s booking with Bobby Hoffman (36-10) was chalked off as a no contest on February 23, 2001.
Madge, who trains at Coach Quan University in Johannesburg and co-owns MADfit MMA in Cape Town, is currently in California helping UFC women’s featherweight queen Cris Cyborg (20-1) prepare for her superfight against bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes (16-4) on December 29.
Speaking on ESPN’s Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, Madge said he aims to better South Africans’ joint-record in the UFC, which reads as 4-10 (plus 1 no contest).
“Man, you know, it’s an honour to represent my country and represent the people of South Africa,” Madge told Helwani when asked about his UFC bow.
“You know I’m very proudly South African. We haven’t had the best showing in the UFC and I wanted to change that as a second-generation fighter you know. The first-generation guys had a go, they weren’t too successful, but we are now the second generation of South African fighters coming out. And I had to represent for my country, I had to represent for my team, and I plan on carrying that momentum forward you know.
“It meant everything to me. It was everything that I had been training for, everything I had been preparing for my entire life. All those years grinding it out in Thailand. All those letdowns, you know, breaking my ribs two weeks before I was supposed to fight in May. It just kept stoking the fire you know and I think the best of me is still yet to come.”
The 28-year-old is grateful for the support he receives from his countrymen.
“Like I said, South Africa is always behind me every time I compete internationally, or now that I’m competing in the UFC at the highest level. I really, really had a lot of support. Everyone’s been super supportive and positive about the performance. Like I said, I haven’t really been home. So when I get home I’m expected to receive quite a bit of appreciation for the fight. It’s an honour to represent my country at the highest level.”
Madge, a Muay Thai specialist with an evolving ground game, is yet to receive word on his next assignment. While he is open to Helwani’s suggestion of facing David Teymur (8-1) after an injury nixed their proposed showdown in May this year, he is mindful the streaking Swede may now have his eye on a ranked opponent.
“Yeah, that’s a great fight. I mean I would like that fight you know. I was excited to fight him in May, it was just unlucky I got injured, but who knows what’s going to happen. I know that he’s on quite a tear; he’s probably looking for a top-10 fight. So if that does happen it will be a great fight. I think it will be exciting for the fans.
“But yeah, whatever comes, I’m ready to fight whoever they want to put in front of me. I believe I can beat anyone in this division and I am excited to see what 2019 holds,” concluded Madge, who is due to fly home in a week.