CAPE TOWN - Nkazimulo “Zuluboy” Zulu may have not officially earned the EFC Flyweight title on Saturday night, but he most certainly made everyone aware that the former champion is fully focused on reclaiming his throne.
Nkazimulo (13-4) did well to enforce a tactical gameplan designed by his coaches and training partners that tamed the ever-dangerous Luthando Biko in their Championship bout in the main event of EFC89 in Johannesburg.
The victor - who was ineligible to earn the title due to missing weight in the build-up to the fight - bided his time and lured his opponent into a comfort zone before finishing him off via a guillotine choke early in the second round of their five round fight at the Extreme Fighting Championship Performance Institute.
The first round saw the former interim bantamweight champion, Luthando (8-3) dominate Nkazimulo by sticking to what he does best, closing the space and putting his grappling and judo to work on the lethal striker.
Luthando even rocked Nkazimulo at one point in between his staple and trademark takedowns.
Nkazimulo had some opportunities on the stand-up, but did not do enough to win the round which saw Luthando confidently move to his corner after the bell.
Cue the second round, after a few exchanges and range detection, the tenacious Luthando shot for the single and double-leg takedowns, applying that old “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it” adage.
At one stage, Biko was about to implement another master class of grappling and control against the cage prior to pulling guard on Nkazimulo going in for the guillotine choke. The latter then created sufficient space before reversing the transition and implemented the same move on his opponent, only this time, Nkazimulo had the much deeper choke, pulling tight on Luthando’s windpipe, forcing the tap.
“A big thank you to my coaches and training partners who helped me with everything,” said the former bantamweight and flyweight champion.
“The game plan was always to choke him out. We wanted to expose him either via a guillotine or d’arce choke. My training partner Igeu (Kabesa) actually called it when it was time to take the choke. Biko fights like he does not expose himself to the choke, so we were waiting for the right moment. At one point I made like I would wrestle him back, but then I pulled the submission and looked for that guillotine,” said Nkazimulo who also credited Luthando for taking the fight.
“I am really grateful to Luthando for taking the fight, he is a real warrior. He also hits really hard, he hurt me in the first round actually.”
Nkazimulo will now have to wait for the EFC to set up an official title fight for him where he can stand a chance to become the official Flyweight champion again.
“Eish, now I have to look at Graeme (Cartmell, EFC Vice President) holding the belt,” said Nkazimulo with a wry smile in the post-fight interview, knowing that he could have earned the title had he made weight.
“It’s okay, though. I respect the rules. I missed weight. Covid hit a lot of fighters hard, so it was hard to keep in shape, too. I will make the weight on my next fight,” added the victor.
Flyweight Championship Main Event
Nkazimulo Zulu (RSA) beat (RSA) Luthando Biko via guillotine choke. (Zulu missed weight and is not eligible for title)
August Kayambala (DRC) beat Cole Henning (RSA) via split decision (29-28 27-30 30-27).
JT Botha (RSA) beat Petie Coxen (RSA) via knockout (body kick) in the first round.
Taka Mhandu (ZIM/IRL) beat Asiashu Tshitamba (RSA) via split decision 30-27 28-29 28-29
Eduardo Barros (ANG) beat Orlando Machava (MOZ) via unanimous decision 30-28 29-28 29-28
Vince Bembe (RSA) beat Warren Richards (RSA) via TKO (ground and pound) in the second round.
Ashley Calvert (RSA) beat Guelor Sondi (DRC) via a guillotine choke in the first round.
Gift Walker (RSA) defeats Martin Qcinukmondo (RSA) via guillotine choke in the 3rd round.
Prince Lolia (DRC) defeats Musa Sethwape via unanimous decision #EFC89