Fight night’s holiday mayhem

Most of South Africa will no doubt be taking full advantage of the public holiday today to relax and unwind, but for a group of mixed martial artists, it's business as usual as they gear up for EFC29 at Carnival City tonight.

The headliner sees the Extreme Fighting Championship welterweight champion Dino Bagattin step into the hexagon to defend his title for the first time when he meets challenger Henry Fadipe.

There’s a collateral form line between the two. Bagattin claimed the title from former champion Michiel Opperman in a five-round thriller at EFC23, while Fadipe, who has a record of 7-6-1, scored a third round knockout over the same foe at EFC26.

“Michiel was winning the fight. I spoke to him and he told me he was clock watching. He had it in the bag and was winding down the clock. Fair play to Fadipe, he capitalised on that, but I’ve proved that I don’t switch off,” Bagattin said ahead of his title defence.

The two are known for their striking abilities and it’s expected that the fight will play out that way. But the champion admits that he’s prepared for whatever the challenger brings as he looks to break a curse that appears to hover over the welterweight division. No champion has ever managed to defend his belt.

“It’s MMA. I’m prepared for anything. We’ve been working on sprawling. We’ve been working on him shooting on me. Everyone shoots when the bombs are going off in their head. I’m ready to go wherever this fight needs to go,” Bagattin, who has a professional record of 11-3, said.

In a top quality main card, Barend Nienaber and Brendan Katz meet in an eliminator for a featherweight title shot, while former middleweight champion Jeremy Smith returns to action when he meets Opperman, who is looking to break new ground by campaigning in a new division.

Lightweights Alex Cheboub and Wade Groth face-off while featherweights Gareth Buirski and Peter Nyide meet, in what promises to be an exciting start.

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