Angolan Demarte Pena in action during EFC 66 at Menlyn Maine on December 16, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo: Anton Geyser/EFC Worldwide
Angolan Demarte Pena in action during EFC 66 at Menlyn Maine on December 16, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo: Anton Geyser/EFC Worldwide

Who will returning fighter Demarte choose as his home?

By Julian Kiewitz Time of article published Aug 12, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - It’s almost time for Demarte Pena’s return.

And the former Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) bantamweight king is keeping his options open as to whom he signs for.

After the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) imposed a four-year ban for testing positive for a banned substance in 2016, Pena (11-0-0-{2}) is ready to move on.

“I don’t feel ready to fight yet. I still have more work to do on my wrestling/grappling. I feel like my stand-up is getting better, my conditioning is getting there. I also need to start working a lot more on my strength programme now,” says Pena.

“I am certainly not going to make the mistake of rushing back once my suspension is over, but in the meantime I have been talking to a few guys I am looking to sign with, I don’t want to say too much just yet. I am definitely not looking to fight in the Extreme Fighting Championship when I come back,” says the man who will officially be available early next year.

“The EFC has been good to me, but I need to look forward to other things, so I will see which promotions can offer what and where I can compete.”

Close to home, promotions such as Brave CF and Ares Fighting

Championship come to mind as options for the pedigree fighter. Ares, the new Afro-European MMA promotion, has set an exciting tone for African MMA and has already scooped up EFC fighters Devon Cronje, Amanda Lino, Brendan Lesar and Matunga Djikasa.

But the Angolan, rated as one of the best African MMA athletes, has the ability to shine on platforms such as One Championship, KSW, Bellator and even the UFC, too.

That championship mentality has not only helped him take a gym (Ultimate MMA Fitness) off the ground, but he also assisted in starting a new fighting promotion, Resilient Fighting Championship, along with creating and selling his own Demarte Pena fighting gear.

“Me as a fighter, and all of us, we need to be dynamic and create other sources of income,” says Pena whose last two title defence victories over the interim bantamweight champion, Irshaad Sayed (13-2-0-{2}), were declared a no-contest following the implementation of the ban.

“We need to be versatile, as we’ve seen anything can happen and we have not been getting money the way we used to. We have had to adjust, become hustlers overnight, I have been hustling almost all my life, lol! It’s all about diversifying.”

Pena, who will be a free agent upon return, added that the new Fight to Fame reality show coming to South Africa sounds like an “interesting and cool concept”.

Demarte Pena’s online home. Photo: supplied

“We as fighters obviously need more ways to earn income because at the moment some promotions don’t pay fighters enough to sustain themselves. There is not a lot of money coming to fighters and we need to diversify,” says the businessman whose brand can be found on www.demartepena.com.

“Look at the UFC and how some of its athletes operate, guys like Michael Bisping, Urijah Faber, Tyron Woodley (mma athletes turned-actors and rappers).

“Locally, we have Francois Groenewald (former EFC star) based in Cape Town who is involved in stunt work, so yeah, fighters need to look at other options aside from fighting three times a year,” added Pena.

Fight to Fame will aim to create big-screen action stars out of combat sports men and women through a reality show that will see contestants compete for a Hollywood production contract.

For more details visit https://www.fight2fame.com.

@juliankiewietz

IOL Sport

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