Boxing / 11 December 2019, 8:29pm / Julian Kiewietz
CAPE TOWN - Corne Blom could be facing one of his toughest challenges yet this weekend at EFC83.
I’m not talking about his opponent’s ability – take nothing away from the prodigy that is 18-year-old Cameron Saaiman.
But the psychological factor at play.
You see, in sport, as in life, people will always tend to back the “good guy”, especially when the “good guy” is fresh out of high school, fighting in front of his home crowd.
I guess you can call it that “big brother” or “big sister” factor. For the Pretoria fans, some of the supporters would even adopt pro-debutant, Cameron for those 15 minutes he steps into the hexagon with 30-year-old Corne (0-2) in a bantamweight bout at Times Square in Menlyn on Saturday.
Cameron has been all the talk since turning pro and he could not have asked for a better stage to catapult his career on than walking out to the cheers of his home fans and family.
It would obviously be a fairy tale ending to see Cameron take the W – again – reverting back to that “good guy”, “bad guy” scenario.
Unfortunately, for the Pretoria fans, Corne is the “bad guy” in this movie – the older man coming to spoil the party for the debutant.
It would of course tarnish the CIT Performance Institute’s record on the night too as they look to walk away with five out of five wins in their home town.
African MMA superstar, Dricus du Plessis leads the CIT army into battle in his middleweight title fight against Brendan Lesar.
But before Dricus defends his throne, Stephan De La Rey, Nerick Simoes, Marino Cutendana and, of course, Cameron will have the chance to build up a proper innings for King Dricus.
Now, putting things into perspective, you can understand why all things are naturally leaning toward a CIT fairy tale ending, especiallly when you throw in a freshman like Cameron to spice things up and pull at the heart strings.
The Cape Town-based fighter, understands what comes with fighting a young up-and-coming star like Cameron – a fighter who was coached and groomed by Dricus himself.
“Cameron is young, and from what I’ve seen, he has a good all-round mixed martial arts game,” says Corne.
CIT is one of the top MMA gyms in Africa and the world, a gym that prides itself on churning out high-level athletes. It was where Dricus – a former triple champion – earned his stripes, along with so many other well-rounded athletes.
“With all things in consideration, the pressure is on me to get a win, however, the crowd will have no impact on me as I am not fighting them,” Corne says. “I have been working hard to get this win and I will step into the cage with the responsibility of representing my team REPS MMA.”
Corne is coming off two losses against Chris Dove and Themba Mkhize respectively.
A win would do the man a world of good, particularly for team REPS who have gone quiet on the EFC scene in a sense in terms of fighter representation.
Not too long ago, legend and coach Rico Hattingh’s REPS’ EFC talent pool was bursting at the seams with names such as Gideon Drotschie, Luke Michael, Armand Scheepers, Hermie Drotschie, Willem Smith and Corne Blom to name a few.
Gideon has since started his own gym, yet he still fights out of REPS, while Willem and Luke have relocated. It is still unclear whether Armand will be rejoining REPS again after moving out of Cape Town with his family.
Corne, Gideon and Hermie Drotschie are currently the only active REPS-based fighters representing on the EFC roster.
And this is more motivation for Corne “the villain” to remind people that REPS is “a growing MMA team” and is still very much a force to be reckoned with. The prelim card features: Roedie Roets vs Serge Kasanda, Conrad Seabi vs Andrew Smith, Stephen De La Rey vs Amisi Kabeya, Nerick Simoes vs Warren Richards, Cameron Saaiman vs Corne Blom and Tommy Strydom vs Elvis Ngwalangwala.
The main card features: Dricus du Plessis vs Brendan Lesar, Amanda Lino vs Manon Fiorot, Marino Cutendana vs Sylvester Chipfumbu, Anicet Kanyeba vs Saxon Delafield, Devon Cronje vs Asiashu Tshitamba.
EFC 83 takes place on Saturday at Times Square, Menlyn, Pretoria.