CAPE TOWN – Dalcha Lungiambula has come a long way since that special day in Kinshasa – the day when his father bought him his first martial arts GI.
The then eight-year-old accepted his gift not only in the materialistic sense, but also embracing and accepting the hunger and potential that lies within.
But would he have predicted that that very hunger and potential would pull him through all the struggles and eventually get him an opportunity in the largest MMA promotion in the world?
That’s right, Dalcha ‘Champion’ Lungiambula, more affectionately known as ‘Champion Dalcha’, will be fighting in the UFC.
A big day for the EFC star, who has come along way since leaving his war-torn homeland of the DRC in search of a better life in Cape Town, as he looks to take care of his family – especially his younger brother – back home.
“I am leaving to join the top league in the world, which every fighter dreams of,” he told Independent Media in an exclusive interview.
The double-division Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) king will be relinquishing his heavyweight and light-heavyweight titles as he enters the octagon, where he will be keen on mixing it up with the likes of UFC superstars Jon Jones, Alex Gustafsson and Anthony Smith.
Dalcha and his camp, Grind Sports Agency, have agreed that he will be focusing on the light-heavyweight division in the UFC, and he could be stepping into the famed octagon as soon as March.
However, nothing is cast in stone yet.
“We took on the heavyweight title shot just as a challenge for him, but light-heavy will be the focus,” says Dalcha’s heach coach and Grind Sports manager Gareth Lombard.
“It has always been a dream to reach the UFC for me and my team. When my Grind Sports team took over in 2015, we set a goal for UFC within three years,” says the man who secured his double champ status after overcoming MMA African legend Andrew van Zyl for the EFC heavyweight title.
“The level of competition is what I need to push myself to be better, and I believe in myself, and I am not afraid of hard work.
“It is a sad time for me also, because I have so many local African fans who would watch me live at the EFC events, and now it will be difficult for most of them to travel with me.”
His presence will certainly be missed at future EFC events, as one would always recognise when Dalcha was in the house, as his fans would chant and sing his name when walking through the corridors of casinos and arenas across Mzansi.
“But I am the king, and my rise can motivate others to rise up and follow me to achieve their dreams,” Dalcha says.
“I want to give African MMA more exposure, and show the level of fighters that are coming through out of the EFC and Africa.
“The industry is getting bigger, but Africa needs support so that the MMA athletes can bring out their best.
“Sponsorships and support is important for us to grow and be better. There are a lot of fighters out there who are great, but without support, they won’t rise.
“That is why I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team, my sponsors, my fans and my family, as I am only able to rise with their support and commitment.”
In terms of that super fight between him and fellow double EFC champion, Dricus du Plessis... it’s off the cards for the moment.
But who knows – maybe we see these two warriors battle it out under the UFC promotion in the near future.