CAPE TOWN – August 11, 2018 was a disappointing night for Martin van Staden.
The knockout specialist was set to defend his lightweight championship for the first time against Dave Mazany.
Swaggered in his blue suit with his shiny title draped over his left shoulder, the champion embraced the qualities of a true sportsman and champion, paying his respects to his colleagues, media and friends during the break at EFC72, something that very few champions still do these days ahead of their fight on the night.
The night did not go Van Staden’s way, though, much to the disappointment and shock of many fans.
Mazany, tipped as the superior wrestler, took the fight by split decision, 49-45 (Mazany), 46-48 (Van Staden) and 49-45 (Mazany).
Credit to Mazany. He did not allow Van Staden to get his hands swinging freely – it could have ended much differently then.
The post event saw an understandably upset Van Staden request a rematch, with EFC President Cairo Howard confirming his intention with a “hell yeah” to give the fighters and the majority of the upset fans that rematch.
Fast forward to a few months later, and Mazany drops a bomb that he has called time on his MMA fighting career.
Wow, how mustn’t Van Staden have felt about this?
“With Dave retiring, yeah, I was really looking forward to getting that fight back, man, especially the way that it ended with the decision, and I really felt I won that fight,” Van Staden said.
“Ups to Dave for retiring, though. It must be a hard thing to do, walking away from this sport and he is only 34, a year younger than me I think. I wish him all the best, he is a good representative of the sport, and I wish him well.”
Van Staden may not have the chance to fight Mazany again, but he has been given an opportunity to hang that beautiful piece of gold over his sharp suit once more.
This past weekend, England’s Joe Cummins called out Van Staden after dominating Armand Scheepers at EFC75.
“I want Van Staden,” said Cummins to the world at the post-fight press conference.
“Mazany is out of the picture, let myself and Martin battle it out for the lightweight belt.”
Cummins is renowned for his smooth kick-boxing, he has beautiful transitioning too, a dangerous go-forward fighter who will make for a very interesting fight with Van Staden, an equally devastating stand and deliver martial artist.
“He is a good well-rounded fighter, I think it is a good match-up for me, he is a guy who will stand and strike with me, so him calling me out, it takes balls, and I look forward to the scrap,” Van Staden said.
“So I will sit down and talk to the EFC and plan this fight, and I am looking forward to it, man.”