Luke Michael says he will make his return at EFC 78 in Cape Town on April 13 and has vowed to claim the welterweight belt this year.
Michael (4-3) dislocated his kneecap in training in early November 2018, ruling him out of a December 8 showdown with veteran contender Conrad Seabi (6-5).
It was another tough blow for the ‘Young Gun’, whose prior two bookings with Armand Scheepers (3-2) and Joe Cummins (5-1) also fell through.
The Scheepers contest collapsed after ‘Little Wanderlei’ missed weight by nine kilograms in August, while Michael withdrew from the Cummins bout due to a knock.
However, Michael is back in training and negotiating with EFC matchmaker Graeme Cartmell over his next opponent, as he seeks to regain momentum after submitting Rodrique Kena (3-2) and Francois Cundari (2-3) in his last two fights.
“It’s part of the sport, part of the game,” Michael tells mmaengage.com referring to his injury setbacks.
“These things happen, especially when you train hard and we trained hard this last year, really hard for my fight which was supposed to happen in December. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, but you know it’s part of the game like I said.
“I’m back in training already, I’ve started. I’m still in Cape Town at the moment, but heading back to Johannesburg later this month to start camp.
“I’m going to be fighting April 13 in Cape Town, I think that’s EFC 78. I’m not too sure on the opponent yet. Graeme and I, the matchmaker, are still trying to work something out.”
He adds: “And ja, I’m getting that welterweight belt this year.”
The 24-year-old, who is a personal trainer outside of the hexagon, says he has used his time productively on the sidelines.
“You know obviously it was tough initially, but I accepted it. It’s part of the sport, again,” he says.
“So I was on the sidelines for a bit, so I’ve been focusing on the other parts of my career like the business aspect, really building my brand.
“So I’m happy with what happened; everything happens for a reason.”
Meanwhile, Michael is looking forward to helping his Coach Quan University teammate Martin van Staden (26-11) prepare for his lightweight title fight with Cummins in the EFC’s first card of 2019 at Time Square in Pretoria on March 16.
Cummins, a well-rounded former English K1 champion, turned heads by outclassing Scheepers with a second-round TKO in November.
Michael expects the EFC 77 headliner to deliver on the hype.
“Ja, definitely I will be able to help Martin,” Michael says.
“I think it is a great fight against Joe. I mean Joe’s last fight was really impressive. I mean his stand-up is good, his wrestling’s good, his jiu-jitsu is good, so he’s an all-round guy.
“Martin has that one-punch knockout power, and if he touches you you’re going to go to sleep. So I think Martin has the edge on the feet definitely.
“I do believe Joe will try wrestle him. If Martin defends the takedowns, keeps it standing and really works his range and striking, I think he can put Joe away, either second or third round KO.
“Ja, so it’s going to be a good camp for him and I’m looking forward to it.”