South African MMA star Bokang “Little Giant” Masunyane’s motivation to continue pursuing one of his dreams has shifted into overdrive with the help of fellow African athletes Demarte Pena, Nkosi Ndebele and Dricus du Plessis.
Angola’s Pena secured the Ares Fighting Championship Bantamweight belt in February last year before Ndebele became the first South African fighter to earn BRAVE CF gold when he stopped USA’s Jose Torres in December 2023 in their 135-pound title fight.
Earlier this month, Du Plessis went viral for becoming the first African-trained and South African-born athlete to secure a UFC belt when he overcame former Middleweight champion Sean Strickland at UFC 297 in Canada.
“It's awesome to see African MMA on the rise,” says Masunyane.
“To see my fellow South African Dricus Du Plessis win the UFC Middleweight World Championship is seriously motivating. At the same time, it's incredible to see fighters like Demarte Pena and Nkosi Ndebele claiming titles in different MMA promotions around the world. People are starting to recognise the talent coming out of African MMA.”
Masunuyane continued to climb the Strawweight rankings of one of the top MMA brands in the world - One Championship - when he beat Japan’s Keito Yamakita via unanimous decision this past weekend at ONE 165 in Tokyo.
Following a stellar amateur MMA career, Masunyane dominated in Africa’s premier mixed martial arts promotion - the Extreme Fighting Championship - with five wins in five fights. He then secured a victory in his sole Pancrase fight against Yusuke Ogikubo before signing with ONE Championship where he has been in fine form with four wins and only one loss to now-Strawweight king Jarred Brooks from the USA.
After losing to Brooks at ONE 156, Masunyane got right back in the saddle and secured two wins to earn a second-place ranking on the world-renowned Asian brand’s Strawweight rankings and is now licking his lips at the prospect of a title shot, which could also potentially see him avenge his loss against the current ONE World Champion, Brooks.
“I have my sights set on two big fights: either throwing down with Jarred Brooks or with Joshua Pacio for the title,” said MADFit MMA’s Masunyane, renowned for his powerful grappling/wrestling game.
Brooks and the number one-ranked Filipino Pacio will enter a rematch in March for the 125-pound strap after the American secured a unanimous decision win over the latter in December of 2022 at ONE 164.
Regardless of the outcome, Masunyane is eager to fight his way to a ONE Championship title and add his name to a long list of distinguished African athletes who are slowly showing the world just how incredibly talented the continent’s fighters are.
“I plan to grow my brand right here at One. It's a great fit for me because I get to take on opponents in my weight class. But hey, who knows what the future holds, right?” added the South African star who fights out of Cape Town.