“I want to get back into the cage ASAP. I will fight anyone the EFC offers. I would like to be on the EFC69 card,” these were the words that popped up from Luke Michael in my WhatsApp message service this week.
Just days after forcing Francois Cundari to tap out via rear-naked choke at EFC68, the young athlete from Goodwood is as determined as ever to climb the ranks and chase the gold, whether it be in the Extreme Fighting Championship or in international promotions.
In the build-up to the fight, the FFM fighter (4 wins and 3 losses with 2 straight wins) spoke of his belief in himself and the vision of becoming "the best in South Africa and then the world" and that he has no doubt in his mind that he will "climb the ranks".
He started living up to that prediction on a solid note this past weekend judging by the manner in which he quickly subdued and dominated Cundari on the ground after 1 minute and 32 seconds at the Grand Arena.
“It was a good fight. I went out and did what I said I was going to do. Thank you to Francois for making me a better man and athlete on the night. I learnt a lot about myself in under two minutes.
“I learnt that I can stay composed and calm in the heat of the moment. I believe I finished in a good fashion and that puts me one step closer to my goals,” says Michael.
The warrior known as “Young Gun” was excited about his move to one of the top MMA gyms in South Africa, FFM, and could not wait to showcase what coach Norman Wessels and Co had taught him.
Michael spoke of how tough a sacrifice it was leaving his beloved Cape Town and his family behind to improve his career by moving to Johannesburg where the Fight Fit Militia gym is based.
He emphasised his love for Cape Town and what it meant coming home to the most beautiful city in the world, and what better way to celebrate his win than with a trip up one of the most beautiful mountains the very next morning.
“I climbed Lion’s Head to loosen up my legs and break a sweat. But flip, what an amazing view it was. It helped me clear my head, and that sight was so worth the mission it was to get on top of the Head. What a great view, man.”
When you listen to Luke Michael, his passion emanates from one Conor McGregor who said: “I am not talented, I am obsessed.”
Now I am not arguing that Michael is not talented, but merely stating that he is as driven as they come.
“I trained the Sunday, and I was on the mats grappling on Monday,” says the man who chooses to continue working instead of taking an ‘off day’ immediately after a major event like thousands of other professional athletes.
But the 23-year-old is not all work and he has made a point of spending time with his loved ones and enjoying his favourite pizza at a restaurant on the Blouberg beachfront.
Michael speaks of chasing the belt around every corner, and when asked what his thoughts were on the prospect of fighting his teammate and the new lightweight champion, Martin van Staden, he reminded me of the values and code of respect and brotherhood that hovers in and around some gyms.
“We don’t fight teammates at FFM.
“I am here to collect wins and fight. If the title is available I will take it. If not, I will look to get international fights.
Van Staden (19-9) brought down the EFC68 curtain in style on Saturday night with a win over England’s Gavin Hughes in the second round via knockout. A moment which Van Staden has been waiting for for a long, long time.
“I am so happy for Martin. He is a legend of the sport and an inspiration to me as a younger athlete,” says Michael.
At the press conference, former lightweight champion and fan favourite, Dave Mazany (who overcame Chris Bright) agreed with Van Staden to battle it out for the lightweight title again (with EFC president Cairo Howarth’s permission of course).
Up next, its EFC69 on April 28 which sees JP Buys takes on Phillipe Rouch for the vacant bantamweight title which was left vacant by EFC superstar Demarte Pena.
As Howarth said, EFC68 was a tough line-up to overshadow, let’s see if 69 can entertain MMA world just as the first Cape Town leg did.
Complete results of EFC68
Martin van Staden defeated Gavin Hughes via KO (knee and punches) 20 seconds into round 2, to take the EFC lightweight title.
Dave Mazany beat Chris Bright via TKO (punches) 2:19 into round 2.
Roedie Roets beat Regis Muyamob via unanimous decision.
Cal Ellenor beat Faeez Jacobs via tapout (guillotine choke) 4:52 into round 1.
Gary Joshua beat Martin de Beer via tapout (heel hook) 4:37 into round 1.
Luke Michael beat Francois Cundari via tapout (rear naked choke) 1:31 into round 1.
Luthando Biko beat Warren Richards via TKO (strikes) 4:40 into round 1.
Torjbjø* Madsen beat Bruno Mukulu via tapout (strikes) 2:03 into round 2.
Caleb Ridely beat August Kayambal via tapout (rear naked choke) 2:04 into round 2.
Juan Bezuidenhout beat Matunga Djikasa via tapout (armbar) 4:38 into round 2.
Wade Kerspuy beat Hishaam Kamish via tapout (rear naked choke) 2:31 into round 1.
Justin Smith beat Robo Ambamba via TKO (strikes) 3:13 into round 1.