All EFC championship belts have been the bounty of outstanding battles and memory-seared wars over the years, but perhaps none more so than the 185lb middleweight buckle. It has adorned the waists of some of the greatest fighters to have ever represented the largest combat sports company in the southern hemisphere, elevating themselves to true global eminence. Names of legends include McLellan, Smith, Bahati, Cleland and of course current UFC icon, Dricus ‘Stillknocks’ Du Plessis.
Du Plessis’ legendary EFC run of 11 wins still remains top of mind to the most ardent fight fans who now herald his unbeaten run in the same division in Las Vegas. The dusted space of his vacated EFC belt will hopefully be replaced when he meets Israel Adesanya’s before the year is through.
Following one of most dramatically controversial title-fights in history, current EFC middleweight gold wearer Luke Michael sustained a heinous injury requiring significant and lengthy rehabilitation, prompting the promotion to now advance the division with an interim contest between two legendary athletes. In three weeks’ time, the inspirational JP Kruger must contend with a figurehead of Pretorian mixed-martial arts whose leadership has accumulated more titles these past two years than any other on the African continent, the fearsome and unique, Conrad Seabi.
Kruger put all 145lb’ers on notice when he entered the EFC 11 years ago with 5 spectacular consecutive victories before being submitted by McLellan, who also took Du Plessis’s tap immediately afterwards. It would be several years before both were to taste defeat again, a true measure of current EFC Commentator McLellans enduring place in the roll call of African MMA greats. A dangerous kickboxer with infinite cardio and a ferocious appetite for a firefight insured by a chromium chin, all of Kruger’s victories have paradoxically come courtesy of his stellar jiu-jitsu. Such a powerful skillset has not only brought him lofty success in many other codes of combat, but it has enabled him to build his gym in Springs, The House of Tinkerbell, into a hotbed of talent that breeds some of the best up-and-coming future stars in the EFC today.
However, the only measure of success that eludes him, is the shiny waistwear that would guarantee his place in the pantheon of heroes, a blinding belt of golden alloy that similarly dangles in the face of his foe whose determination to cement his own legacy is no less relentless. A ruthless and savage grappler with Muay Thai accolades for which he no longer has room in his Silverton home and more ‘Fight of the Night’ bonuses than nearly any other middleweight in promotional history, Conrad Seabi is no less experienced and equally devastating when hunting for the finish. His jaw-dropping highlight reel includes knock-outs of Mnikathi, Sage, Merten and Swanepoel with several wars resulting in the judges nod including the legendary fight of the year against Pietie Coxen at EFC 71. His empire-building at renowned gym, Brothers In Arms has witnessed three championship belts pass through its doors and its fourth and final would be the most pertinent if worn by its leader, and the inspirational man they call ‘Cagewise’.
Now these two strikers turned MMA specialists will enter the Hexagon for the right to unify the most legendary of championships once and for all against Michael, to follow the footsteps of Du Plessis and dare to tread the path of success down which the belt has led him. And it finally happens on the 11th of May at EFC 103 in Johannesburg, South Africa.