MATT MILTON

“If you put something out to the universe it always comes back.” These were the words spoken by Undisputed Fight ClubMaster Kru Dimitri Bailanis when asked about Demarte “The Wolf” Pena’s participation and victory at EFC AFRICA 07 on 3 February.

“My fight was very quick and maybe some people are sceptical, and think maybe I was lucky… or maybe that other guy wasn’t that good… so now I’m fighting a relatively good fighter says Pena.

Pena will be fighting Jean Luc at EFC 08 on 14 April at Carnival City. The event will also be shown live at select Nu Metro Cinemas.

In the last week of January Pena told Kru Dimitri that he intended to be on ECF in two years time. He was preparing for his third year as aBCom Entrepreneurship student at the University Of Pretoria (TUKS), this would have been his final year before actively pursuing a career in professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

The following week on 1 February Kru Dimitri received a call from former student and EFC matchmaker Graeme Cartmell. Cartmell was looking for a fighter in the featherweight division and according to Kru Dimitri Pena came to mind straight away.

Pena, an Angolan national, moved to South Africa at the age of ten. By then he had already trained in Judo and Karate although he admits to not having taken it seriously back then.

Extreme Fighting Championship Africa otherwise known as EFC AFRICA or just EFC is the biggest MMA arena on the continent. Fighters from all over Africa as well as an American fighter have appeared in the octagon, also referred to as “The Cage”, in the Coca-Cola Dome.

The fights at EFC are comprised of mainly three interactions; stand-up fighting, take-downs and grappling or ground work.

Stand-up fighting consists of punching, kicking, elbowing and kneeing. Any discipline of martial arts may be used provided that no fatal techniques are employed.

Take-downs are the transitional methods, excluding knocking the opponent down, between stand-up fighting and grappling. These include throws, tripping, slamming and diving or lunging.

Grappling more commonly known as wrestling is the most technically complex aspect of the sport. It involves manipulating an opponent’s joints and limbs or otherwise choking them until they either escape or submit (tap-out).The other aspect of ground-work involved pinning your opponent and beating them till they escape or the ref stops you.

21-year old Pena demonstrated almost all the above mentioned tactics, within 51 seconds of the first round of his debut match at EFC, on opponent Mawande Mazithambe to claim the first win of his professional career.

Pena’s skill set is also comprised of Muay Thai, Brazilian Jujitsu and various forms of wrestling.”He has the resources,” emphasises KruBailanis. Resources consisting of the undisputed Open Division World Muay Thai and four time South African Champion Master Kru Dimitri Bailanis, Kru Nick Savvidies who passed down the legacy of “The Wolf” to Pena, former number two ranked South African wrestler Derek van der Linde and Marino Culdendana Pena’s best friend, Jujitsu coach and sparring partner.

“To improve my skill I have to fight the best” states Pena. “Every single day that passes I’m getting better” he further declared. This mind set shows why Kru Dimitri refers to Pena as a good role model apart from being a coach and mentor in the gym. “He’s a guy you can look up to… if you want see what type of fighter you want to be one day you’d think to yourself I want to be like Demarte,” explains Kru Bailanis.

When reflecting on the difference between being an amateur and a professional fighter, Pena laughs saying, “One you pay to fight, the other you get paid to fight.” “Although in amateur [fighting] you don’t really mind paying to fight because you love what you’re doing, but this [professional fighting] is better, added Pena.

However, according to Pena the crowd, the stage, and just being at EFC are the biggest factors when trying to keep your nerves down. “But then all that adrenaline passes once you get the first punch in your face”, admits Pena.

“I’m grateful for what they (EFC) are doing…they really care for their fighters,” states Pena. Pena is currently the only Undisputed member at EFC, however, Kru Dimitri is confident that more members of Undisputed will be competing in EFC before the year is out including Culdendana.

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