MMA ENGAGE

Vanderaa: I’m champ for a reason

Vanderaa: I’m champ for a reason

EFC heavyweight king Jared Vanderaa says he will take requests from fans on how to dispatch veteran Ricky Misholas at Pretoria’s Time Square on Saturday.

Vanderaa (8-3) will make his maiden title defence against the DRC’s Misholas (7-7) in the co-main event of EFC 77, just before Martin van Staden (26-11) battles Englishman Joe Cummins (5-1) for the vacant lightweight belt.

READ: Van Staden reveals UFC interest

America’s Vanderaa became undisputed champion when Dalcha Lungiambula (9-1) swapped the EFC for the UFC in the new year, having claimed interim honours with a third-round TKO of ex-champ Ruan Potts (11-7) in December 2018.

Misholas earned a crack at the strap after winning four of his last five fights, which includes finishes of Kevin Koekemoer (1-2) and Juan Bezuidenhout (1-1) in his previous two outings.

READ: Ricky – Jared’s belt belongs in Africa

“Everyone at this level is competent; Ricky is no different,” Vanderaa tells mmaengage.com.

“He has good power and an improving game, but I’m just different than these guys. I am a fully devoted mixed martial artist that will fight anyone, anywhere. I am the champ for a reason. I train with the very best the game has to offer right now.

“I feel I am the most well-rounded fighter in all of the heavyweight division in the EFC and that type of versatility will really frustrate Ricky. I’m coming in dangerous; a man on a mission. We’ll ask the fans during fight week how they want to see this one end … I am open to suggestions.”

The 26-year-old Team Quest product is winding down an eight-week camp and insists he is “nastier than before”.

EFC matchmaker Graeme Cartmell has indicated the winner of the bout could next face England’s Stuart Austin (13-5), who sensationally knocked out South African MMA legend Andrew van Zyl (19-5) a round into their contest in December.

READ: Cartmell talks up Austin

Asked about Austin, Vanderaa says: “I like Stuart, but Ricky’s the test right now. Control what I can control. I’m trusting the process.”

Meanwhile, Vanderaa expects to soon follow Lungiambula into the UFC and feels he is more than ready to compete in the octagon.

“Without a doubt. Truthfully, I feel I am already there. I need to control what I can control and let the rest play out, however it may. They know my name. One hundred percent finish rate; mix of subs and KOs; young; somewhat handsome – I check a lot of boxes.”

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