Martin van Staden eyeing a big payday post the UAE Warriors 35

Martin van Staden evades a low kick from England's Joe Cummins during their EFC Lightweight title fight at EFC 77. Picture: EFCWorldWide.

Martin van Staden evades a low kick from England's Joe Cummins during their EFC Lightweight title fight at EFC 77. Picture: EFCWorldWide.

Published Feb 20, 2023


Cape Town - Martin “The Punisher” van Staden has confirmed that he is keen on fighting in a “million-dollar grand prix” tournament soon after his upcoming UAE Warriors bout this weekend in Abu Dhabi.

Van Staden (21-12) will make his second appearance at the Middle East-based promotion when he faces Angola’s Shido Boris Soto Esperanca (6-1) in a Welterweight bout at UAE Warriors 35: Africa this coming Friday, February 24th.

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The event forms part of the triple-header weekend show that includes UAE Warriors 36 (Saturday) and UAE Warriors 37: Arabia, which closes out the weekend spectacle on Sunday, February 26th.

“The Punisher '' opened his UAE Warriors account on a good note when he finished France’s Aymard Guih via ground and pound in the second round of their UAE Warriors 32 bout in September last year.

Esperanca is a former Warrior Sports Championship Welterweight champion who makes his third appearance at UAE Warriors after one win and one loss.

He recorded a defeat in his latest bout when he retired due to injury against Morocco’s Badreddine Diani at the same event Van Staden debuted.

Van Staden - who recently turned 40 years old - is a veteran of African Mixed Martial Arts. He has seen it all on the continent and has reached the pinnacle of the sport in the Extreme Fighting Championship, where he was a long-time Welterweight number-one contender and an undisputed Lightweight champion.

While the man feels in peak condition and is ready to fight for another few years, he wants to capitalise on his opportunities and collect the big paydays while he is still able to compete at the highest level.

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“I am supposed to have one more fight on my UAE Warriors contract,” confirms Van Staden.

“My manager is looking for a big payday for me, so I'm keen on getting into a million-dollar grand prix somewhere. The focus now is to get a win this weekend and see which avenue we choose. UAE Warriors is an amazing organisation, and if they are the ‘next step’ then that is what I will do, but I am looking to get into a million-dollar grand prix or go to Rizin Fighting Federation (Japan), Bellator (USA/Europe) or the Professional Fighters League (USA),” says the South African who feels that he has enough gas in the tank to make a run at any of these big mixed martial arts promotions.

Van Staden was close to getting his big international break when he lined up to fight former UFC athlete and Germany’s Denis Siver at ACB in 2017. Siver was a big name known for the heated exchanges with his former opponent and global MMA superstar Conor McGregor who beat the German two years earlier in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Van Staden and Siver were set to square off in a Lightweight bout before Siver withdrew due to a shoulder injury.

It was a big disappointment for Van Staden as a win over the German could have opened huge doors for the South African.

After that fight cancellation, Van Staden experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. A standout moment since 2017 was his crowning as the new EFC Lightweight champion when he beat England's Gavin Hughes at EFC 68. He then went on to lose the Lightweight title and a shot at the EFC Welterweight belt while securing two victories in between in both the EFC and UAE Warriors.

This weekend might be "The Punisher's" last shot at a big international promotion or competition should he overcome his Angolan opponent in their Welterweight match-up.

Van Staden will be joined by a slew of South African-based MMA stars.

Cedric Doyle (10-5) takes on Egypt’s Ahmed Faress (18-7) in a Featherweight bout.

SA’s explosive Middleweight Zaakir Badat (4-1) will face Egypt’s Aslam Abdul Baset (13-2). Sthembiso Hadebe (1-0) will square-off with Morocco’s Taha Bendaoud (1-0) in a Bantamweight bout, Zimbabwe’s Tapiwa Katikati (5-0) will throwdown with Baset’s compatriot, Ramadan Noaman (9-7) in a Lightweight match-up. And the latest edition to the card is DRC’s Pupanga Tresor who will face French Algerian Laid Zerhouni in a Middleweight fight.

Stay tuned to MzansiMMA and IOLSport for more information on UAE Warriors this coming weekend.


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