The biggest event of 2023 in African combat sports is set to explode in Johannesburg as three title fights head-up a card that promises non-stop action!
The most dominant featherweight in EFC history returns to defend his belt against the man who sensationally took it away from him over two years ago in one of the biggest upsets ever in the EFC, as Igeu ‘Smiley’ Kabesa faces the only man he has lost to in six years, the Pitbull Brother from Brazil, Reinaldo Ekson.
Kabesa’s record is unparalleled in African MMA, having competed for the EFC for over a decade and losing only twice to odds-upsetting submissions. His highlight-reel victories over international opponents include Conor McGregor’s SBG training partner Peter Queally, the Croatian Cowboy Karlo Caput, UFC fighter Danny Henry and his Scots teammate Calum Murrie, 53-fight Shooto vet Paulo Bananada, and a string of globe-trotting Ronin who come up short against the greatest 145lb mixed martial artist in Africa.
Except for the man they call ‘Guerierro’ – The Warrior.
As lockdown eased in South Africa in December 2021, the EFC Performance Institute played host to a multitude of international athletes competing at EFC 86 one of whom was Reinaldo Ekson fighting out of the renowned Pitbull Brothers gym in Brazil, and whose teammates José da Rocha and Gian Souza are regular EFC competitors. With Kabesa the favourite at World Sports Betting to retain his belt, in a contest that was expected to be competitive, no-one present that night predicted that ‘Smiley’ would lose his belt, just 90 seconds into the first round to an Arm Triangle choke, and with the featherweight belt hitching a seat on the red-eye out of OR Tambo back to Rio.
After vacating the title to enter the PFL and Kabesa since reclaiming it, these two incredible champions now run it back, with Kabesa desperate for redemption and equally determined to prevent the title being snatched out of his grasp by the Warrior once again!
In April this year Mark Hulme returned to the Hexagon after a six-year absence to dethrone the previously undefeated champion, Ziko Makengele in the very first round, and strap-on the welterweight belt in sensational fashion. Now he returns for his inaugural title defence against JP Kruger’s 170lb phenom, Peace ‘X’ Nguphane, the divisional number one contender who has yet to see a judges scorecard in his entire professional career.
Hulme first competed in EFC nine years ago and submitted his opponent in the first round, a feat he repeated against Makengele just seven months ago. Those eight years in between he has competed all over the world and is a regular in Las Vegas as Dricus’ du Plessis’s teammate and sparring partner, whose grappling has benefited greatly from Hulmes top-drawer jiu-jitsu.
But his opponent is undoubtedly the hungriest-title contender in town, as Peace ‘X’ Nguphane has consistently campaigned for a shot at the belt regardless of the athlete wearing it. Nor is Nguphane equally shy of taking the fight to the mat where he can pull off a variety of submissions, though his last two knock-out finishes are evidence of a power-pugilist’s proficiency, putting away far more experienced opponents with comparative ease and making a name for himself in taking major scalps. ‘X’ proves to be a massive challenge for Hulmes first defence of the 170lb strap.
The third astounding title fight features the one-round Zambian finishing machine, Humphrey ‘King Cobra’ Mulenga facing the crushing Congolese anaconda, Kaleka ‘Block’ Kabanda for the vacant lightweight title in a war that is guaranteed to end in devastating fashion. In his seven professional fights, Lusaka’s Mulenga has never been past the first round, most recently this month against the veteran Cole Henning in a victory that secured his title contendership. But also vying for gold is another veteran, Kaleka Kabandam, who boasts more EFC wins than Mulenga and who’s grappling prowess has overseen the demise of many, including most of the top-tier 155lb-ranked contenders. This is the biggest fight of both these athletes careers with the ultimate accolade on the line of who is the greatest, undisputed lightweight on the African continent.
These three momentous title fights end a record-breaking year for EFC after sold-out crowds and new broadcast deals continue to grow the organisation as one of the leading sports entertainment assets in Africa. With 9 other action-packed matchups at EFC 110, the 7th of December is appointment-viewing for fight fans around the world and stamps a thrilling bookend on an historic year that only whets the appetite for a ground-breaking 2024!
EFC 110 Kabesa vs Ekson for the Featherweight title, Hulme vs Nguphane for the Welterweight title AND Mulenga vs Kabanda for the Lightweight title are all presented by World Sports Betting and take place on Thursday 7 December 2023 live from The EFC Performance Institute in JHB, South Africa. Ticket and broadcast info at EFCworldwide.com