South Africa

Van Staden feels the UFC are watching

2019-02-21 11:39
 Martin van Staden (Fight Fit Militia)
Martin van Staden (Fight Fit Militia)

Cape Town - South African lightweight Martin van Staden feels the UFC are keeping a closer eye on African talent and has reiterated his desire to fight in MMA’s premier promotion.

Cameroon’s Francis Ngannou (13-3), who KO’d legendary heavyweight Cain Velasquez (14-3) in 26 seconds in Arizona, USA on the weekend, has been making waves in the UFC, as have Nigerian stars Israel Adesanya (16-0) and Kamaru Usman (14-1).

READ: Van Staden won’t give up on UFC dream

Ngannou is back in title contention along with middleweight striking sensation Adesanya, while Usman will challenge Tyron Woodley (19-3-1) for the welterweight crown at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on March 2.

READ: Ngannou backs Usman for UFC gold

Van Staden’s (26-11) Coach Quan University teammate and compatriot Don Madge (8-3-1) also made quite the impression on his UFC debut, finishing Te Edwards (6-3) with a second-round head kick in Moncton, Canada on October 27 to earn a $50 000 performance bonus.

Notably, another African ex-EFC champion has since joined the Las Vegas-based organisation in the form of DR Congo’s light-heavyweight Dalcha Lungiambula (9-1), who may make his octagon bow next month.

Adding to such developments, SuperSport recently penned deals to broadcast UFC and EFC events, further fuelling Van Staden on his quest to compete on the sport’s biggest stage.

‘The Punisher’ can bolster his bid by reclaiming the vacant EFC lightweight belt when he meets Englishman Joe Cummins (5-1) at Time Square in Pretoria on March 16.

“No look, I’ve got aspirations to get in the UFC,” Van Staden told Kieran Cobley on the MMA Newsome Podcast.

“I still have another two fights left on my contract, which is up at the end of the year. So obviously after I win this fight, or if I get an opportunity to get into a big promotion, and my organisation lets me, I would take that opportunity. But if I’m forced to fight or need to fight at the end of the year before I make that move, then so be it. But we’ll just plan it as we go and just see. Whatever happens, happens.”

Asked if the UFC is paying closer attention to African fighters, the 35-year-old knockout artist said: “Yeah, most definitely. We just had a teammate [Madge] go over to the UFC and win there in a big way. The EFC has now signed a TV deal with SuperSport, who is also broadcasting UFC live now, so the partnership is there between the broadcast rights - so that also opens up the doors for us. So yes, I definitely think the UFC has got their eyes on us local boys here.”

Meanwhile, Van Staden expects to be tested by Cummins despite having a significant experience advantage, as he seeks to rebound from losing the belt via split decision to the now-retired Dave Mazany (17-6-1) in August, 2018.

The well-rounded Cummins previously outclassed Armand Scheepers (3-2) en route to a second-round TKO and second straight win in November last year.

“I’ve got a lot of fight experience under my belt. I think Joe has been doing martial arts for a long time, and I think he’s done other sports and has competed,” Van Staden said.

“I think his MMA record is good. You know, he has only lost to a team-mate (Themba Gorimbo) of mine. But what I’ve seen of him he’s very experienced. I can see he knows what he is doing. His record is not a reflection of the calibre of fighter he is. I think he’s a really good fighter. Ja, I think he’s really good.”

Read more on:    efc


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