Joe Cummins clinched the lightweight belt at Martin van Staden’s expense, Jared Vanderaa defended his heavyweight strap against Ricky Misholas, while Pierre Botha handed Roedi Roets his first loss in brutal fashion at EFC 77.
England’s Cummins (6-1) adopted a cautious approach against the heavy-handed Van Staden (26-12), using his wrestling and clinch game to get the decision against the ex-champion in the five-round headliner in Pretoria on Saturday night.
“This is more than a world title, it’s karma. All this time I’ve been helping others, and finally it’s come back to me. Thank you to every person that has ever shared the mat with me,” Cummins said afterwards at Time Square.
As expected, American Vanderaa (9-3) proved too much to handle for DR Congo’s Misholas (7-8) in the co-main event, finishing the veteran with ground-and-pound in the second round in his maiden title defence. ‘The Mountain’, who believes he is close to a UFC call-up, could next face Stuart Austin (13-5) if EFC matchmaker Graeme Cartmell gets his way.
Earlier, Misholas’s compatriot Alain ‘Commander Boy’ Ilunga (12-5) returned to the hexagon at welterweight after a near two-year hiatus, and beat Łukasz Świrydowicz (4-5) from Poland by unanimous decision in the Fight of the Night. With a seventh straight victory, Ilunga, who trains with Van Staden at Coach Quan University in Johannesburg, is more than worthy of a title shot against Świrydowicz’s teammate Cummins.
At light heavyweight, Quinton Rossouw (3-0) rallied against New Zealand’s Shaw Dean (4-1) to secure a crucifix position and trigger the referee’s stoppage in the second round due to unanswered strikes. The win over the TF1 cast member carries some weight in a division without a champ following Dalcha Lungiambula’s (9-1) move to the UFC in the new year.
In the main card opener, Gordon Roodman (4-6-1) spoiled Justin Smith’s (3-1) perfect record, albeit via disqualification for illegal strikes to the back of the head. Smith, a prospect at welterweight, took the fight at late notice and at middleweight following the withdrawal of Neil du Plessis (3-1) due to a staph infection.
The evening’s final preliminary bout delivered an early candidate for EFC Knockout of the Year, as Botha (10-7) folded fellow featherweight contender Roets (5-1) into the canvas with a left hook barely 33 seconds into their contest. Botha, a former title challenger, earned a performance bonus in the process and strengthened his claim for a rematch with 66kg kingpin Igeu Kabesa (11-1).
Mixed martial arts icon ‘Cris Cyborg’ (20-2) was notably in attendance for the EFC’s first show of 2019, having conducted a seminar at Apex MMA Gym in Bryanston that same day.
EFC 77 results:
Stephan De La Ray defeated Aly Kalambay via unanimous decision.
Trezeguet Kanyinda defeated Benjamin Mangala via TKO (punches) 0:55 into
Asiashu Tshitamba defeated Orlando Machaba via TKO (punches) 3:19 into
round 2. (performance bonus)
Marcel Els defeated Nerick Simoes via tapout due to strikes (punches) 2:03
into round 1.
Tumisang Madiba defeated Serge Kasanda via submission (rear naked
choke) 0:27 into round 2. (performance bonus)
Pierre Botha defeated Roedie Roets via KO 0:33 into round 1. (performance bonus)
Alain Ilunga defeated Łukasz Świrydowicz via unanimous decision. (Fight of the Night)
Quinton Rossouw defeated Shaw Dean via TKO (punches) 4:31 into round 2.
Jared Vanderaa defeated Ricky Misholas via TKO (punches) 1:49 into round
2, to successfully defend the EFC heavyweight title.
Joe Cummins defeated Martin van Staden via unanimous decision to take the
EFC lightweight title.