Justin Smith believes he is the next ‘Champion Dalcha’ of the EFC.
Dalcha Lungiambula (9-1) recently signed for the UFC after claiming the EFC heavyweight and light heavyweight belts, which he has since relinquished.
Lungiambula, who hopes to make his UFC bow in April, currently mentors 21-year-old Smith (3-0). Both men hail from the Democratic Republic of Congo and now reside in Cape Town, South Africa.
Smith, a fast-rising welterweight prospect with three first-round finishes on his record, is confident he can emulate his compatriot and get a UFC deal.
The power puncher aims to bolster his CV when he makes his EFC 77 main-card debut against Gordon Roodman (3-6-1) at Pretoria’s Time Square on March 16.
“So basically, Champion Dalcha started with me when I started this sport as well,” Smith told Alastair Bishop on the BigAl MMA Podcast. “He was always there. Whenever I needed something he was there for me.
“You know everybody says I’m the next Dalcha. I am the next Dalcha in the EFC and I will be following in his footsteps very soon, also going to the UFC.
“You know I believe in myself. I’ve got a guy who mentors me. He tells me, ‘don’t do this; don’t do that’. He gives me advice. So I’m very confident for this fight.”
Smith will meet 33-year-old Roodman at middleweight, having stepped up as a replacement following the withdrawal of Neil du Plessis (3-1) a fortnight ago with a staph infection.
“It’s actually a good fight,” Smith said.
“There I get to see where I am in the EFC. I get to see if I can fight for the title or something like that. So I’m actually excited for this fight.
“Gordon is one of the guys who I used to look up to when I was young. There’s a lot of the guys in the EFC now who fight that I used to look up to, you know what I mean?
“Who I used to say, ‘ja, this guy’s very tough; this guy’s a champ’. But look at me now, I’m fighting against them, so I feel good.
“So it’s actually motivating for me fighting guys I used to look up to.”
Smith, who comes from a K1 background, feels beating a veteran like Roodman could earn him a title shot.
“Ja, I’ve got my eyes on the title. I think after this fight, maybe for me to just … I deserve the title shot. Because I’m a man of my word. Whenever I say something, it happens you know.
“There are guys that have also since fought four times and they got title shots. I think after this fight, if I win it very good, I deserve the title shot.”
‘The Power’ also insisted he has no problem competing up a division against ‘Rage’.
“It doesn’t affect me at all. I used to fight at middleweight in kickboxing as well. I’ve got good sparring partners. I spar heavyweights, middleweights, so stepping up to middleweight is not a problem.
“For me actually it makes me more fitter; more power as well. They don’t call me The Power for