Irshaad Sayed, former muaythai and MMA champion, retired from combat sports on Wednesday night. Photo: Anton Geyser/EFC Worldwide

CAPE TOWN – Former EFC interim bantamweight champion Irshaad Sayed has retired from combat sports at the relatively young age of 29. 

The former WMC champion nak muay, easily one of the most noteworthy fighters in the history of South African MMA, announced his decision in an Instagram post on Wednesday evening. 

He departs with a record of 11 wins, three losses and one no contest; having fought for the EFC and ONE Championship amongst other promotions.

Sayed quickly became a household name among South African MMA followers after joining the EFC; equally loved and hated for brash, witty (and often funny) trash talk. 

Having joined the promotion at a time when the sport was experiencing a worldwide boom(largely due to Conor McGregor’s knockouts and antics in the UFC) Sayed helped to elevate the EFC to its current status as a TV powerhouse. 

His rivalry with Demarte Pena, the perfectly humble, stoic foil to Sayed, played a major role in this.

Pena and Sayed went five rounds in their first bout in 2016, with the Angolan retaining his title via unanimous decision. 

However, the fight was later declared a no-contest after Pena tested positive for a banned substance. He was later cleared of guilt when further investigation showed that he had ingested the banned substance via a legal but tainted supplement.

The second fight, a year later, after Sayed’s war with Tumisang Madiba, ended in a dominant win for Pena. 

After landing a head kick halfway through the first round and unloading a barrage of punches on his grounded opponent, Pena turned the tide of fight that he had looked second best in. 

Sayed fought off several submission attempts, withstood constant punishment, fought off several takedowns and got back to his feet after successful takedowns during the rest of the first round – never looking for a way out and even talking to Pena at one stage. 

Sayed went on to dominate the striking exchanges in the rest of the fight. 

But the contest came to an end when he was stunned with by right hook from Pena, taken down and bombarded with punches until the referee declared Pena the winner by TKO.

With Pena having relinquished the title recently, Sayed’s departure will leave another hole in the EFC’s bantamweight roster and leave the sport a lot less entertaining.

I don’t remember much about this fight after Demarte landed a solid left high kick. 1 thing I do remember as clear as day is, as the referee was stopping the fight, I recall shouting to him to allow the fight to continue, protesting that I’m able to fight. Never have I ever given up during a fight, so me finally walking away from professional martial arts, isn’t me giving up but simply me moving on with my life. Thank you to my wife, family, training partners, coaches, friends and supporters that have carried me through a long and healthy 12 year professional career. I will always be a fighter at heart 🥊 @efcworldwide @quintonarendse12 @eddie_magician @alain.ngalani @vuyisilecolossa @looneycooney852 @phet_tanawat @basicreflex @pfa_sa @charl_malherbesa @shane_braaf @mordi34 @heathlsims @stevie_orr80 @carlsongracie_nz @rafvozatft

A post shared by Irshaad Sayed (@irshaadsayed) on


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