Cape Town -
The EFC bantamweight division has been rocked by several big events in recent
months, starting with the undefeated multiple division champion, Demarte Pena,
having his decision by SAIDS (South African Institute for Drug Free Sport)
overturned by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency).
Pena tested positive for a banned substance at EFC 55 in
his title fight against then interim champion, Irshaad Sayed. Pena was provisionally suspended, but
after a hearing was cleared by SAIDS of all charges. Their fight was overturned
to a no contest and Sayed was reinstated as the interim champion.
In December, the two
champions met again for a rematch and final of reality TV show The Fighter -
Season 1 at EFC 66. Pena defeated Sayed, this time by TKO in Round 4.
Pena later went on to
relinquish his title, allowing former training partner, JP Buys, to claim the
title against France’s Phillipe Rouch.
However, WADA did not agree with the outcome of the initial
SAIDS hearing and reviewed Pena’s doping case. Through their own findings, they
have found Pena to be guilty and sentenced him to a four-year suspension, minus
time already served. The second fight between himself and Sayed has been
disqualified, and thus ruled a No Contest.
Days prior to the news of
WADA’s findings and rulings, Sayed retired from the sport of Mixed Martial Arts
with a record of 13-2, and undefeated in the EFC Hexagon. His post on his
Instagram account reads as follows:
don’t remember much about this fight after Demarte landed a solid left high
kick. 1 thing I do remember as clear as day is, as the referee was stopping the
fight, I recall shouting to him to allow the fight to continue, protesting that
I’m able to fight. Never have I ever given up during a fight, so me finally
walking away from professional martial arts, isn’t me giving up but simply me
moving on with my life. Thank you to my wife, family, training partners,
coaches, friends and supporters that have carried me through a long and healthy
12-year professional career. I will always be a fighter at heart”
Sayed has officially hung up his gloves from professional
competition, but should he return, he will be reinstated as the interim
“As Irshaad has retired he
won’t be reinstated,” explained EFC President Cairo Howarth.
he withdraw his retirement and decide to compete again, he will be.”
While Buys is the current reigning EFC bantamweight
champion, like his South African counterpart Dricus du Plessis, he has his eyes
set on further promotional domination. Buys has been offered to compete on
foreign soil and in the short term, has chosen not to defend his EFC title.
EFC VP Talent, Graeme Cartmell explained the future of the
“We are loaded with exciting contenders for JP to face, but he is not
accepting them. So, we have decided to create an interim title fight to keep
the division flowing and ensure that the guys that are putting in the hard work
to stay at the top, get their deserved shot at EFC gold.”
"That being said, South Africa’s Luthando Biko will face England’s Cal Ellenor!” Cartmell continued.
Biko (4-1) is a Judo
blackbelt who hails from Port Elizabeth. He is currently riding a 4-fight win streak, spanning across the bantam and featherweight
divisions. The PESFA stand-out is short, stocky and incredibly explosive. Most recently he put in the
performance of a lifetime, showing of new footwork and striking skills, landing
head kicks on his taller previous opponent Steven Goncalves. An
already dangerous man, Biko just raised the bar even higher.
In stark contrast, Ellenor (7-1) is tall and lanky, he
is a submission specialist with creative long distance boxing. He hails from
Sunderland, England and is supported by his notorious team, TFTMMA. The last time fans saw him in
competition was in Cape Town, he put Faeez Jacobs to sleep with a devastating
Biko versus Ellenor for the EFC interim bantamweight
championship is confirmed to co-headline the EFC 75 fight card at GrandWest,
Cape Town on Saturday, November 3.
“It’s a perfect fight for them and they know they’re going
to have to get their hands’ dirty,” elaborated Cartmell.
“It’s a real gritty fight with both guys
possessing equally unparalleled skill, and the ability to stare down big
moments and come out on top. The bantamweight division is about to have the
door kicked wide open!”
This fight joins the main event of EFC 75 which is
headlined by the EFC flyweight championship between undisputed champion,
Nkazimulo Zulu and undefeated challenger, Gary Joshua.