In just seven days from now, a battle with rage that may change the African combat sports landscape for a long time to come. One of the most exciting talents in continental sporting history, defends his belt for the very first time against a dangerous and highly experienced returning veteran. Ziko Makengele shocked the world in 2022 when he knocked out former champion Martin van Staden to take the welterweight title, but now the undefeated wrecking machine must evade the superlative submission attacks of Van Staden’s former teammate and top CIT jiu-jitsu wizard, Mark ‘Frankenstein’ Hulme.
When Hulme entered the Hexagon over nine years ago, he submitted his more-experienced opponent in the first round and has since gone on to take one-round taps across the planet, but as anyone who has faced a CIT fighter will tell you, the Hatfield crew are equally content to finish with the fists. Having prepared Dricus du Plessis and Cameron Saaiman for their spectacular UFC career runs by sharpening their submission skills even further, Hulme confronts the biggest test of his career in the outstanding athletic conundrum none have yet solved, the awe-inspiring champion from the DRC they call, ‘The Gorilla’.
The Congolese crusher entered the EFC’s 170lb division in 2021 on a malevolent mission of pure destruction. Deploying his offensive Judo to ragdoll his foes to the floor, the BIA phenom then smothers and pummels them through the canvas into the netherworld to force the referee’s intervention, a gameplan that has seen Conrad Seabi’s disciple remain peerless and unconquered in the professional era. It has been a blazing career-path that has proven tricky for EFC matchmakers to find opponents for the champion. Until now.
When Hulmes sparring partner, JC Lamprecht also made his long-awaited return to the Hex, it resulted in the complete subjugation of Willem Smith and a resultant first-round KO. But his opponent in this event, also boasts of exactly the same victory over the same opponent, in the same round, in the same way. Khulekani Hlongwa is hellbent chasing ownership of the top-ranked spot in the division and equally prefers to get the job done swiftly. A tough tap with a chin, ‘Cold Steel’ now has an opportunity to prove he’s no gatekeeper and to snatch a major scalp in the process. Lamprecht though, makes no bones about his desire for a title and is growing in retrospective confidence at how smoothly his resurgence has progressed to this point. But his ultimate proof in good decision-making will be if Biyong’s 205lb gold makes itself available to him in 2023 while a win over a powerhouse vet like Hlongwa would certainly strengthen that case. Not an easy task.
Shannon van Tonder’s loss of a title contention shot at EFC 100 shocked everyone and ended an unbeaten run of astounding finishes. Determined to redeem and regain he finds an equally resolved Ashley Calvert who has only once been to the judges’ scorecards in 11 years. With other major international promotions all chasing current 145lb champ Igeu Kabesa’s signature, the featherweight division may soon crown a new king and both Van Tonder and Calvert will wish to lay claim to the throne.
Now that the bruising colossus, Vandam Mbuyi, has served his suspension following the post-fight drama which unfolded during his failed title challenge against Matunga Djikasa, he must put Port Elizabeth’s Ivan Strydom to sleep in style to reinsert his name back into talk of gold. Strydom’s boxing style is a match for any pugilist but he also possesses a controlling top game that he’s used to devastating effect in the past to set-up his ground and pound. Also falling short in his Djikasa encounter thanks to the BIA champ’s sidekicks to the knee, ‘The Hurricane’ will be steadfast in his hunt for Mbuyi’s consciousness.
Opening the EFC 102 main card will be a scrap that fight fans were hotly anticipating at EFC 101 in March, but visa issues kept Nigeria’s undefeated rising star, Juliet Ukah from the card. Now her appointment with Melkbosstrand’s Crystal ’The Lovely’ Van Wyk has been rescheduled to curtain-raiser status here, as indicative of the investment the EFC is making in African Women’s MMA. Furthermore, with the Muay Thai specialists both coming-off hugely impressive wins, the primary anticipation when this bout was initially announced goes up a notch, now that newly minted women’s strawweight champ, Alice Ardelean is in search of her first title challenger.
Preceding these ten immensely talented and doggedly determined fighters is an undercard replete with some of the best up-and-coming prospect mixing it up with established fighting stars. The featured prelim bout between Peace ‘X’ Nguphane and Given ‘Bonecracker’ Majuba is guaranteed fireworks with both continuing their upward trajectories following equally superb finishes, Durban’s David Mambo will hope to build upon his sterling debut knock-out victory but his opponent, PFA’s Emmanuel Sita, is still smarting from his recent decision loss and will aim to derail the East Coast hype train. An awesome addition to the lightweight roster finally gets his first run in the PI as the African Amateur Champion from Angola, Osvaldo Benedito receives veteran slugger Robert ‘9mm’ Swanepoel as his dubious welcoming party, after Boyd Allen prodigy Luke Hendrikz will be desperate to rebound from a contentious stoppage on debut with a freshly-inked mark in the win column against the unmoveable Christian Mulamba from renowned grappling gym, Guts ‘N Glory and it all kicks off with Mamelodi’s Vincent Nakana opening the show with Cape Town’s greenhorn Grace Ngoyi.
EFC 102 is locked and loaded to be one of the most unmissable sports events on the continent this year yet. And it all happens in just one week from now.
EFC 102, Makengele versus Hulme for the Welterweight Championship is presented by World Sports Betting and takes place on Thursday, 13th April 2023 live from the EFC Performance Institute in JHB, South Africa.