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This fight is my life. It’s all I have and I have to win,” says Luke Michael

FILE - Luke Michael catches Dino Bagattin in a rear-naked choke during their fight at EFC 87 last year. Photo: Roarke Bouffe/EFC Worldwide

FILE - Luke Michael catches Dino Bagattin in a rear-naked choke during their fight at EFC 87 last year. Photo: Roarke Bouffe/EFC Worldwide

Published Mar 2, 2022

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Cape Town — Luke Michael is going all-in this weekend when he fights for the Extreme Fighting Championship’s middleweight belt.

“This fight is my life, it’s everything to me. It’s all I have and I have to win,” said South Africa’s Michael who will be facing the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Pupanga Tresor at EFC 92 on Saturday.

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This will be Michael’s second shot at a title within a space of three years, and a chance for the prospect to finally start fulfilling his potential after struggling to find consistency as well as a gym that he can call home.

After losing out on the welterweight championship to Zimbabwe’s Themba Gorimbo, Michael made some more changes and says that he is now finally settled both as an athlete and human being.

“I fought for (the) welterweight title in September 2019, obviously it didn’t go my way. I fought a good guy and that experience made me who I am now, and I am grateful for it,” said Michael (5-4) who reflected back on the fight with now UAE Warriors-signed and former EFC champion Gorimbo (9-3).

After that fight, Michael established a good relationship with coach Attila Barna in Lonehill, Johannesburg who helped him get back onto the winning road with a victory over EFC veteran Dino Bagattin (12-10) at EFC 87.

“After joining coach Attila in January 2020, I can honestly say I found a home for my spirit and it’s what I always wanted and needed for my career,” Michael said.

“In him I see a coach for life. He allows me to express myself and he taught me to be my own motivation.”

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On his shift to middleweight, Michael and his coach have been considerate about how they navigate through the EFC waters and beyond.

“It’s the middleweight title up next,” he said.

“My coach and I have spoken. With regards to EFC level, I can definitely compete at middleweight. Internationally, I believe I will make the cut back to welterweight.”

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Michael is aware that with him being a top prospect at welterweight and winning the middleweight belt, could open doors for him, however, he remains focused on Saturday’s fight.

“This title win will definitely open doors for me and give me options globally, but right now, I’m focused on the task at hand.

“I’ve trained with Tresor before,” said Michael who was once a big part of the Fight Fit Militia gym where Pupanga (4-4) trains.

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“I am not - and I say this with confidence - that version of me is dead, and I will prove that on Saturday. I know he is a tough guy, but everyone is tough at this level.”

Michael was always set to be a promising athlete with a bright future. After a rocky and inconsistent start, a handful of his fights being cancelled along with him struggling to find a home, he now has a chance to build a solid foundation and fulfil that promise.

EFC 92 takes place at the EFC Performance Institute in Paulshof, Johannesburg on Saturday.

The prelim card starts at 2pm Central African Time with the main card kicking off at 6pm (CAT).

You can stream the prelim card on efcworldwide.tv and the rest of the action can be seen on SuperSport. For more details, visit www.efcworldwide.com.

@juliankiewietz

IOL Sport

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