“You Have To Keep Going. That’s What Makes You A Champion”
How Pena survived ‘The Animal’s’ onslaught at EFC AFRICA 19
22 April 2013
Johannesburg (South Africa) - On Friday April 19 EFC AFRICA featherweight champion Demarte ‘The Wolf’ Pena successfully defended his title against challenger Wentzel ‘The Animal’ Nel. It was, however, the fight of the champion’s life.
‘Tonight when they close that cage door,’ the 37 year old Nel had said on e.tv’s live Sunrise Show that morning, ‘he is going to see a vicious animal.’ The crowd was stunned to silence as on the night Nel rushed The Wolf straight out of the blocks and twenty seconds in had knocked the champion down with a blistering stream of freight train punches.
“When he hit me,” said Pena at the press conference after the event, “oh my God. It felt like someone swung a brick.” “I expected him to shoot for the takedown straight,” he added. “I didn’t’ expect him to stand with me. He caught me by surprise.”
Pena is known as a strategic fighter, a master of control, pace and technique. He revealed that his strategy had been to feel his opponent out in the first round, work a few kicks and the clinch and then take the fight down. Instead the Animal happened, and Pena did all he could just to hold on.
“After the first round everything was blurry,” said the champion. “The whole fight I was just trying to see where he was going, feeling the fight because I couldn’t see at all. It was really, really hard.”
“Did you feel like you were in trouble?” Asked one interviewer. “Very much so,” he replied, laughing and nodding, “very much so.”
“The plan,” said Nel, “was to hurt Demarte badly in the first two rounds.”
Not only was Pena knocked down early but also on two other occasions after that, each time as a result of Nel’s heavy hands. However, as the fight wore on the quality of the undefeated champion began to shine through. Utilising kicks to the legs, body and head he began to wear Nel down, inflicting untold pain that by the end had the challenger hanging on simply to finish.
How did the champion manage to weather the first two rounds?
“I have a very intelligent coach,” said the champion. “We train scientifically. We do more and more of what works for MMA and less and less of what doesn’t.” “In life it’s really important to push through no matter how hard it is,” he adds. “You never know how things are going to go. You have to keep going. That’s what makes you a champion.”
“I think,” said Nel, “Demarte can honestly say he really had to fight hard to keep the belt tonight.”
Certainly, every fan will agree and agree too that this championship bout was exactly what it should be. An incredible test that took both athletes to their limit, revealing without doubt the best fighter on the night. Congratulations to both men. It was and is a fight to remember.
EFC AFRICA 20, presented by MusclePharm, returns to the Carnival City Big Top Arena on 27 June 2013. Tickets on sale now at www.computicket.com and tickets for the live broadcast to Nu Metro Cinemas available soon at www.numetro.com.
Broadcast information and full fight card available at efcafrica.com