EFC68 was an emphatic night with 12 fights of which ony one went the distance, and that 3 round fight was an absolute war! The night also provided some clarity to divisions that where begging for answers. The main and co-main events where lightweight battles, in which one was crowned champion and the other a contender status. It was almost immediately clear that the now Lightweight Champion Martin Van Staaden, will be set to face Las Vegas based, Dave Mazany sometime in the near future.
Further in the lightweight division, we saw Liverpool’s own Gavin Hughes take his first loss compliments of Van Staaden. Hughes looked to be in the fight until he was caught by a massive knee, his striking looked clean, crisp and compact. He had some great early exchanges and was hunting a KO early on. Although he lost I still consider him high up in the Lightweight rankings. For me there is only one man for him next and im afraid it doesn’t get any easier for Hughes if he wishes to get another crack at the Lightweight strap. Lurking in the shadows, lies a man on a 6 fight win streak and an EFC stalwart. A man with insane kicks and KO abilities, If Gavin Hughes is looking for another massive fight in the upper eshalants of the EFC Lightweight division then i feel Alain Illunga is his man.
Staying with the Lightweight division. EFC68 also saw the return of Chris Bright, although he lost to Mazany, he showed that age is just a number and that he can hang with the best the EFC has to offer. The Jiu-Jitsu specialist showed a great improvement in his hands and even had Mazany Rocked and almost finished him. Earlier on in the night was another lightweight looking up at the future and continuing his resurgence under the tutelage of the Fight fit militia mega camp. Luke Michaels wrapped up another impressive victory, showcasing his aggressive ground based style. This is a fight that excited me, the Master vs the young gun, although it reminds me a lot of Bright vs Speechly, I think this fight would an epic showcase of MMA. Chris Bright vs Luke Michaels , The old-guard vs the Future generation, the aggression of Michaels vs the calculated Bright.
The Bantamweight division has now also received some great clarity, as the curtain closes on the Pena vs Sayed era, we witness a surge of new contenders. JP Buys will face Phillippe Rouch at the next EFC for the vacant Bantamweight title and so the search for the next Contender begins. Enter Cal Ellenor. Ellenor lost to a highly controversial decision in his first outing and at EFC68 went on to prove his worth by winning in emphatic fashion. Ellenor dispatched hometown favorite and human highlight reel Faeez Jacobs in the first round Via a nasty Guillotine choke. Ellenor through down the marker and put the Bantamweight division on notice with a first round demolition of a surging contender. Perhaps the Buirski rematch , but I can’t see Buirski taking that, and with Sayed on a sabbatical there is only one opponent left. Que the return of “The President”. Thumisang Madiba has been quietly serving a suspension for a failed drug test and as of the Middle of this year will be returning to compete in the EFC. Madiba only had one fight in the Bantamweight division and that was against former interim Champ Irshaad Sayed. That was one of his best performances to date even though he didn’t win. A battle of two massive fan favorites, with all or nothing aggressive styles, a match up that would steal the show on any card.
The last of my fantasy picks post EFC68 is a classic, someones 0 has got to go. Roedie Roets, continued his surge and remained unbeaten after going three hard rounds against Regis Muyambo. I have said it many times before that he is the future, and after he made his intentions clear to drop to featherweight and perhaps even Bantamweight, I think a stern test is in order. Enter Steven Goncalves. Goncalves, has been flying up the ranks with win after win stating his claim on the division. Both fighters undefeated, both fighters after gold, and someones 0 has got to go.