EFC Review: Top Ten Fights of 2016

By Edrich Pienaar

The Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) hosted no less than 10 events (EFC47 – EFC56) in 2016. The year was filled with stacked fight cards and epic fights that saw viewership figures grow to approximately 3 million viewers worldwide.

Here are South African MMA’s top 10 Fights of 2016.

Dricus du Plessis vs Rafal Haratyk (EFC56)

The final fight of the night was an action packed middleweight clash between the welterweight champion, Dricus du Plessis and Rafal Haratyk.

The fight started at an extreme pace. Fans can be forgiven for thinking that the man from Poland, Haratyk, might cause the upset of the year by beating a seemingly unstoppable du Plessis as he had the welterweight champ on the back foot for most of the first round with his crisp and accurate striking.

Du Plessis, however, wasn’t going down that easily.  He came back in the second round, holding his own against a visibly exhausted opponent. Du Plessis used his well-known explosive power to take the fight to the ground and sink in a guillotine choke to take victory by submission.

Demarte Pena vs Irshaad Sayed (EFC55)

After months of verbal sparring the fight for the unified Bantamweight Title finally arrived. The tension and animosity (between the fighters) filled the cage as much as excitement (of fans and supporters) filled the Grand West Arena.

Both fighters matched each other’s skill and technique in their stand-up. The first takedown of the fight only happened in the fourth round when Pena (known for his superior ground game) took it to the mat. Even then Sayed defended well and managed to get back to his feet without much trouble.

In the end it wasn’t to be for the interim champion (Sayed) as the Angolan (Pena) was victorious by unanimous decision to retain his bantamweight crown. 

Dave Mazany vs Leon Mynhardt 2 (EFC55) – Lightweight Title

The rematch for the Lightweight title was epic showdown of skill and determination by both fighters. The American (Mazany) was aiming to defend his title that he won from the same opponent at EFC51. Mynhardt was looking to recapture his crown after losing it when the two previously fought.

Mazany troubled his opponent with his striking. The man they call the “Iron Lion” lived up to his name, showing his resilience and heart to weather the onslaught of the “Pain Train”.

Unfortunately it was not enough for Mynhardt as he eventually lost the fight by TKO in the third round in which was awarded Fight of the Night.

Andrew van Zyl vs Elvis Moyo (EFC54) – Heavyweight Title

The man they call “One Gear” battled the “Bulawayo Bomber”, Elvis Moyo, in arguably the best fight in the heavyweight division thus far in EFC history.

Moyo out moved and out boxed his opponent, two time heavyweight champion, van Zyl for the first three rounds. Van Zyl kept coming forward and eventually managed to get a takedown in the fourth round. From here he quickly managed to gain top control and take the victory (and his third heavyweight title) by TKO.

Boyd Allen vs Leon Mynhardt (EFC47)

Leon Mynhardt was set to defend his lightweight title against the American Dave Mazany. Unfortunately the challenger had to pull out of the fight due to injury. Step up to the plate was former featherweight champion, Boyd Allen.

Both fighters displayed good stand-up skill. In a close fight, Mynhardt edged the first round, but Allen systematically started taking control of the fight from the second round onwards with his superior boxing skills.

Mynhardt (who suffered a broken nose) refused to give up, but it was just not enough as the judges awarded Allen the victory by split decision.

Boyd Allen vs Azi Thomas (EFC53)

In his second fight at lightweight (after losing the featherweight title), Boyd Allen took on the former Commonwealth boxing champion, Welshman Azi Thomas.

The Fight was originally a stop start affair thanks to an accidental eye poke (from Allen) and a few accidental low kicks (by Thomas). In the second round Thomas did what no one else in the organization could do. He stunned Allen with a flush strike to the chin. He quickly locked in the guillotine choke but Allen showed great heart to survive the round.

Allen started the third round still visibly shaken, however still displayed his superior striking skill (that won him the featherweight title) and managed to win the fight by TKO in round 3.

Leon Mynhardt vs Dave Mazany (EFC51) – Lightweight Title

Leon Mynhardt defended his title against arguably his toughest opponent yet. The American challenger was aiming to do what none of Mynhardt’s previous four opponents could do. That is to take away his title.

Mazany shocked all supporters when he locked in a standing guillotine choke, in the first round, forcing Mynhardt to tap. This turned the division on its head which was ruled by the “Iron Lion” for more than two years.

Dricus du Plessis vs Martin van Staden (EFC50) – Welterweight Title

Van Staden challenged Du Plessis for the vacant welterweight title. This was a typical FFM vs CIT matchup filled with animosity towards each other.

It was Van Staden who started the fight at a high pace in an attempt to win the title which he failed to do against David Buirsky at EFC 46. However the youngster, du Plessis, was more than up to the task and weathered the onslaught from “The Punisher”.

The two traded submission attempts until Du Plessis managed to lock in a tight guillotine choke to take the win (and the title) by submission.

Irshaad Sayed vs Cedric Doyle (EFC48)

Cape Town’s favourite son, Irshaad “White Tiger” Sayed fought Cedric Doyle for the interim bantamweight title.

Doyle shocked the crowd by knocking down Sayed (by accidental head butt) early in the first round. He followed Sayed to the ground and locked in a rear naked choke. Sayed did absolutely magnificent to defend the choke and get back to his feet. The rest of round one saw the two fighters match each other’s stand-up.

Sayed started to take control of the fight with a few decisive takedowns in the second round. In the third round he showcased his Muay Thai skills by knocking down Doyle and taking the fight (and interim title) by TKO.

Yannick Bahati vs Michiel Opperman (EFC53)

Bahati was originally supposed to defend his middleweight crown against, the former welterweight champion, David Buirsky. Buirsky unfortunately had to withdraw from the bout due to injury.

The Brittan was offered a non – title fight against Buirsky’s team mate, and also a former welterweight champion, Michiel Opperman. He gladly accepted and what followed was a barrage of insults towards Opperman. He even used some obscene / vulgar language to try and upset his opponent at the weigh – ins.

Come fight night, Opperman wasted no time in letting his fists go. The former karate champion backed up Bahati against the cage with some fierce strikes, eventually knocking down Bahati and taking the fight via KO in only 12 seconds.

Honorary Mention: Chad Hanekom vs Cian Erraught (EFC50)

Light heavyweight protégé, Chad Hanekom fought Irishman, and former Division A rugby league player, Cian Erraught, in a high paced hard hitting light heavyweight clash.

The fight could’ve gone any way until Hanekom locked in a rear naked choke in round 2 for the victory.

2017 Will be another packed year for the EFC, hosting 10 events (the first one in March). This year promises to continue with the phenomenal growth in viewership and development of the sport and fighters in South Africa. Lastly, the EFC will be looking at continuing the advancements made in securing fighter health and medical assistance. Also the advancements made in drug testing procedures.