Smith confident of retaining EFC title
Defending Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) Africa middleweight champion Jeremy Smith has no doubt he will still be the champion at the end of his title defence at Carnival City on Thursday evening.
Jeremy Smith (Red) celebrates defeating Liam Cleland (Blue) during their bout at EFC Africa 09. ©Chris Ricco
He would come up against former champion Garreth McLellan at the 24th edition of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event. “I’m fighting my fight. I’m not fighting his fight and I’m going there to fight,” Smith said ahead of the highly anticipated match-up in Brakpan.
“I’m the champion, I’ve got the belt. If he wants to take it from me he has to be the champion… he’s not taking it from me. “It’s my belt and it’s staying with me. At the end of EFC 24, I’ll still be the champion and my hands will be raised.”
Thursday’s main event would be the second meeting between the two EFC Africa crowd favourites. The last time the pair entered the hexagon, Smith defeated McLellan to become the new middleweight champion, stealing the belt in the fourth round at EFC Africa 12.
Since then, Smith had retained the belt and had gone on to successfully defend his title against Darren Daniel. Originally scheduled to take place earlier in the year, injuries to both parties caused a the fight to be postponed.
McLellan said he is raring to go, promising EFC fans “the best contested title this country has ever seen”.
“My body’s in fantastic shape and I’ve put in nine months of the hardest work in my life to be in the place that I am right now,” the former champion said. “For the first time, I’m 100 percent in tune with myself. My mind, my body and my emotional status are 100 percent aligned.
“There’s a hunger inside me that I haven’t experienced for a long time. I’m in a situation where I want this badly.” Reflecting on their last meeting, Smith conceded he might have come into the fight slightly in awe of the occasion, but dismissed any fears of making the same mistake on Thursday.
“I was a bit nervous in that fight. I think it was the biggest crowd I’d fought in front of in South Africa,” Smith said. “I did show him too much respect in the first fight. I’m not going to show him any respect in this fight.
“To become the champion has always been one of my dreams. It was a great accomplishment for me.”
McLellan said he had become obsessed with the title which had once belonged to him and he warned Smith that plenty of hard work and dedication had gone into preparing him for his shot at the title.
“I will make sure that I execute what I want to execute with 100 percent perfection,” McLellan said. “I’ve put numerous hours of blood, sweat and tears into this sport. “I’m going to go for it and nothing is going to stop me.”
In Thursday’s other title fight, featherweight champion Demarte Pena would look to successfully defend his title for a record fifth time when he faced Alain Ilunga.
Pena, who defeated Leo Gloss more than two years ago, had gone on to beat Wesley Hawkey, Terrence Griessel, Wentzel Nel and Abdul Hassan en route to becoming the continent’s most dominant champion.