Cape Town - South African MMA star Don Madge will join a select group of his countrymen when he makes his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut in Moncton, Canada this weekend.
Madge (7-3-1) faces another UFC newbie Te Edwards (6-1) of America on a card headlined by a scrap between light-heavyweight contenders Volkan Oezdemir (15-2) and Anthony Smith (30-13).
When the 27-year-old lightweight enters the octagon on Saturday he will follow in the footsteps of compatriots Garreth McLellan, Ruan Potts, Trevor Prangley, Neil Grove and Mark Robinson.
While getting to the UFC is hard enough, his predecessors will attest to the challenges of staying there. The quintet compiled a joint-record of 3-10 (plus 1 no contest) in the sport’s ‘ultimate proving ground’.
Former Extreme Fighting Championship middleweight king McLellan (13-6) was the most recent Saffa to compete in the UFC and boasts the most appearances. He won one of five fights against Bubba Bush (8-3) in October 2015, but was released after succumbing to undefeated Brazilian destroyer Paulo Costa (12-0) in May 2017.
Two-time EFC heavyweight champion Potts (11-6) suffered three straight defeats in the Las Vegas-based promotion. The 40-year-old’s final loss came in February 2015 to Derrick Lewis (21-5), who will battle UFC champ-champ Daniel Cormier (21-1) for heavyweight gold in December.
Going further back, Prangley (34-11) started off well as he beat Curtis Stout (11-12) in June 2004 and Travis Lutter (10-6) the following year. However, the 46-year-old then dropped decisions to the legendary Jeremy Horn (91-22) in November 2005 and current Bellator light-heavyweight contender Chael Sonnen (30-16) in April 2006.
Grove (12-8) had one foray in the UFC, which ended in defeat to Mike Ciesnolevicz (19-4) in February 2009, while Robinson (1-0)’s booking with Bobby Hoffman (36-10) was chalked off as a no-contest in February 2001.
Madge, who splits his training between Fight Fit Militia in Johannesburg and Cape Town’s MADfit MMA, was initially meant to register his UFC bow against streaking Swede David Teymur (8-1) in Liverpool in May, but was forced out with an injury.
An accomplished Muay Thai practitioner and Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, Madge was signed by the UFC fresh off reclaiming the EFC 70kg belt in April with a rear-naked choke of now-retired Alaskan Dave Mazany (17-6-1).