Cape Town - Dalcha ‘Champion’ Lungiambula is hoping to make his UFC debut in April, according to his camp.
The former EFC heavyweight and light heavyweight king penned a four-fight deal with the Las Vegas-based promotion in the new year.
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His manager and head coach Gareth Lombard initially wanted Lungiambula (9-1) to make his octagon bow at 93kg next month, but that’s now looking unlikely.
“Ja, we were originally looking for March, but at the moment it does seem like March is probably a little bit too soon,” Lombard told Alastair Bishop on the BigAl MMA Podcast.
“So we are hoping maybe for mid-April. For us the ideal one would have been London; there’s one I think it’s the eighth (Ed: March 16) or somewhere like in the middle in March, that would have been ideal.”
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Lungiambula, who has lived in South Africa for a decade, is currently back home in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When he returns to Cape Town, Lombard will push to get his client in the cage as soon as possible.
“Champ’s actually travelled home now for a little bit, so when he comes back we are going to push for that. And obviously to be as soon as possible, but also for him to be as ready as possible as well. And realistically you’re looking at maybe six to eight weeks [for a training camp] you know.”
A second degree judo black belt with decent boxing, Lungiambula last fought in June 2018 when he collected the EFC heavyweight belt by edging the battle-tested and recently-retired Andrew Van Zyl (19-5) via split decision for a fifth straight win.
Defeating the bigger man and legend of South African MMA saw Lungiambula become the third champ-champ in the organisation alongside Amanda Lino (4-1) and Dricus du Plessis (12-2), with the latter since relinquishing his welterweight strap.
While Lombard was aware many expected Van Zyl to be too much for Lungiambula to handle, he was confident heading into the bout.
“Look, people that actually train and roll with Champion and spar with Champion know what his capabilities are. So everyone that is actively involved around him, knew that he could do it. You know, people that looked at the stats, they said, ‘No way, this is impossible, safe bet.’ So for us, achieving and implementing a game plan and coming away with the win, you know it was really great for the team,” Lombard said.
“And what was nice we were able just to bring in Rico (Hattingh of Reps MMA) into the team dynamics, and you know he helped a lot. Him and also Shaun as well, so it was nice just to get people from different gyms coming together and putting in some effort into Champion, and Champion taking it in, listening and performing on the night. So that in itself, that achievement was something special.”