The DRC’s Ricky Misholas expects to strike a blow for African pride against EFC heavyweight champion Jared Vanderaa.
Misholas (7-7) will fight American Vanderaa (8-3) in the co-main event of EFC 77 at Time Square in Pretoria on March 16.
‘The Apocalypse’, who lives and trains in South Africa under coach Ferdinand Basson in Johannesburg, is determined to bring the belt back to the continent.
Misholas afterwards plans to launch an assault on the light heavyweight strap, which former champ-champ Dalcha Lungiambula (9-1) also vacated when he was signed by the UFC in the new year.
“I’ve got so, so much motivation for this fight,” Misholas told Alastair Bishop on the BigAl MMA Podcast.
“I don’t know how to explain to you, my spirit is so high. Just to prove a point, to show them that the EFC is not a stepping stone, and Africa is not a stepping stone for all of these international fighters, where they can [say], ‘Okay let me just fight two more, or three fights in the EFC, so I can go for Bellator or the UFC, or whatever, no. That’s what I’m going to prove. I want to show Vanderaa they were wrong with what they were thinking, and show the whole world that the EFC is not a stepping stone. So they come here, you know what … there is going to be a big surprise for this fight. I’m so motivated and I had a camp, as I said, it was a short-notice camp, but the thing is I pushed myself over the limit and we are looking forward to this.”
Micholas has ample motivation to win the title for his family, teammates and fellow Africans.
“This thing, I have to dedicate to my family, especially my wife and my kids because they were always there from day one. They are my number one supporters, so this belt I’m going to dedicate to them. And the second thing, this belt I’m going to dedicate to Africa, because it is like we are bringing back pride in Africa. Because that belt has been taken away from the African continent to America, so we need to bring it back. That’s why I’m always saying Vanderaa is not fighting Ricky Misholas, he’s fighting the whole continent. He’s fighting the whole continent. It’s going to be a huge thing.”
He added: “And then this thing also to my team and teammates, people that have been there from day one since I’ve been doing this. You know what, I don’t know how to explain, this is going to be like … I’m dedicating the belt to them because I’ve got so much plans after this. I’m planning on not staying in just heavyweight. So, I want to take this heavyweight division and I’m going down to the light heavyweight division. I want to grab that thing as well. I want to taste that light heavyweight division and see what is going to come up, and we take it from there.”
Misholas received the title shot after winning four of his last five fights, most recently registering back-to-back finishes of Kevin Koekemoer (1-2) and Juan Bezuidenhout (1-1).
Vanderaa became the undisputed champion once Lungiambula joined the UFC, having claimed interim honours by taking out accomplished veteran Ruan Potts (11-7) in December 2018.