Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
22 Feb 2014
9:00 am

‘I will not fight my partner’ – Pena

Wesley Botton

Torn between his title and his allegiance to his team, undefeated mixed martial arts champion Demarte Pena says he is not buckling in his refusal to face training partner Boyd Allen.

Demarte Pena at EFC Africa 16 at Carnival City, Johannesburg, South Africa ©Chris Ricco/Backpagepix

With Allen rising to the No 1 contender’s spot in the featherweight division, the duo were offered double their usual prize purse by EFC Africa in November to meet in a title fight.

They refused, however, and Pena said yesterday neither fighter had changed his mind, despite the promoters refusing to offer him another opportunity unless it is against Allen.

“It’s a big problem when you fight a partner because you train together every day and you build a friendship,” Pena said.

“We work as a team and it would cause complications. The only way out of it would be for one of us to leave the group. We’re a strong unit, and neither of us is willing to jeopardise that.”

Pena, who has defended his title five times, said they planned to meet with the promoters ahead of next week’s EFC Africa 27 event to discuss the situation.

He believed it would be unreasonable, however, to expect training partners to meet in a contest.

“Regardless of whether someone is a friend, the intention should be to hurt him. When you fight someone, you always remember being in the ring with him, and your relationship is never the same again.”

Cairo Howarth, president of EFC Africa, said the promoters would not accept the duo’s training situation as a reason to avoid a title fight.

“Demarte is our featherweight champion and he has a responsibility to us and the fans to fight the best in the division,” Howarth said.

“The fact that they are team-mates is irrelevant. Either Demarte and Boyd agree to face off, or Demarte will sit idle until Boyd is defeated by someone else.”