Jay Cucciniello celebrates after his win over Wesley Hawkey at EFC 66. Photo: Anton Geyser/EFC Worldwide

CAPE TOWN - With the Extreme Fighting Championship recently closing its doors on a successful Season One of The Fighter, the news of Jay Cucciniello’s selection for the world-renowned Mixed Martial Arts show, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) comes as a welcome celebration in-tow.

Cucciniello has been hand-picked by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ballers and shot-callers to participate in one of the world’s most popular American reality shows which sees fighters from across the globe compete for a shot at a UFC contract.

EFC’s “The Fighter” - still in its infancy in comparison to TUF, saw South Africa’s Brendan Lesar earn himself an EFC contract in a controversial finale in which he overcame fellow TF1 fighter, Ibrahim Mane.

It was a great advertisement for the growth of MMA in South Africa and Africa, and with Cucciniello now competing in the toughest MMA arena in the world, the gospel that is MMA will only grow and encourage aspiring athletes in Mzansi and across all borders in Africa.

In its 27th season, TUF sees 16 undefeated featherweight and lightweight fighters compete and showcase their talents week after week, which will ultimately lead to stardom, hard work and a healthy cashflow for one or more fighters.

Cucciniello made his debut in the African promotion that is EFC at event number 64 in Durban against home-town hero and African legend, Wesley Hawkey.

In the main event of the night, the Englishman submitted his host and opponent in spectacular fashion in the first round to leave a long-lasting mark on the featherweight division.

Cucciniello flew back to England 8-0 and could hold his head high.

After that shockingly quick victory, the word quickly spread and it was evident that it would only be a matter of time before Jay would take on featherweight champion Igeu Kabesa, but that match will have to be put on ice, maybe even cancelled completely.

Because now, Jay has the chance to go one step further than his fellow EFC brothers such as Cyril Asker, Danny Henry, Garreth McLellan, Nkazimulo Zulu and Ruan Potts, and carry the EFC flag strong in the Las Vegas-based promotion that is the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“Best of luck to Jay on TUF, he wouldn’t have stood a chance against me anyway,” said Kabesa, mixing his chirps with a shot of sportsmanship.

“Jay is a standout gentleman and exceptional athlete,” said EFC president, Cairo Howarth.

“We wish him the best of luck in the competition and we are sure he will represent EFC in the best of light to the world.”

Everybody who knows the MMA scene will tell you that for most, UFC is the place to be, it’s the land of the Conor McGregors, the Alistair Overeems and the Diaz brothers.

It’s like the Ferrari (maybe the Mercedes these days) of the F1 game. And Cucciniello has the chance to take EFC to the biggest stage on the sporting network.

It won’t be easy, but he is on an exciting path and he has everything to gain from his new adventure.

Cape Argus

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