One of the most exciting divisions in local Mixed Martial Arts is the Lightweight division and at EFC Africa 20 MMA fans will get the chance to watch a Lightweight Title Fight that is going to be a full out war between two warriors. A fight that fans are undoubtedly anxious to see. A fight between the current Lightweight champ, Costa Ioannou and the contender, Don Madge. We got hold of both Costa and Don and chatted to them about their upcoming EFC Africa title fight, see what they had to say about the fight, their training, each other and more here:
Costa: Costa Ioannou
Don: Don Madge
Don: Cape Town
Submission of choice:
Costa: Rear Naked Choke
Don: Rear Naked Choke
Costa: Crazy Monkey Defence and Fight Fit Militia
Don: Pride Fighting Academy (PFA); Phoenix Muay Thai & MMA Gym; Tiger Muay Thai & MMA (Thailand)
Costa: NBM Group, USN, Aqua Vita Water, Primo Executive Cars and BadBoy
Don: BadBoy, Snaith Racing, Full Circle Resourcing and IT Specialists and Mirage Tattoos.
“The only thing I find disrespectful is that Don’s fans have treated me as a complete write off…This just makes me hungrier for this fight”
A big title fight is coming your way at EFC Africa 20. What are you most excited about when you think of this fight?
Costa: I’m excited to get in there. I cannot handle the 6/7 month layoffs every time I fight because there aren’t title contenders. This year with the help of SuperSport things are going to change though and I plan to fight every 3 months from this fight onwards.
Don: Anytime you get an opportunity to fight for the title, it’s an exciting occasion, but just the opportunity to fight against the best there is in Africa is really awesome.
Leading up to the fight how do you personally deal with any smack talk being thrown you way?
Costa: It doesn’t affect me, I know it’s just part of the game. The only thing I find disrespectful is that Don’s fans have treated me as a complete write off and like someone that hasn’t accomplished what I have been so fortunate to be blessed with. This just makes me hungrier for this fight.
Don: I’m not really one to get involved in smack talk to be honest, I think it’s all a lot of crap really, no amount of smack talk can help you once you step into the hexagon where it really matters.
Have you changed up anything in your training to adjust to this title fight?
Costa: I train all facets of the game and try minimise all holes every time I train. I evolve my skill set every time I compete and I feel that’s what keeps me ahead. Training itself doesn’t vary much because there is so much to work in the game of MMA, just the intensity increases during fight camp.
Don: Nope, as an MMA athlete you train to be the best at all disciplines. Obviously we all have strengths and weaknesses but I train to be the best at them all and leading up to this fight is no different.
How long have you been training specifically for this fight?
Costa: We discussed this fight in April, so about 9 weeks ago, but I am always in training thanks to my sponsors, so it’s just a shift in focus and training intensity in order to prepare for my specific opponent.
Don: 6 Months.
How do you think your opponent will come into the fight and do you think he will be ready?
Costa: Don will be in great shape. Fighting for a title is a really big thing and fighters are generally in the best shape of their lives. Don always says how much this fight means to him so he will have done everything in his power to prepare for it.
Don: He is the champion so I’m sure he will be confident, he has done it all before and I have no doubt he will be ready. I guess it’s just a case of who is more ready.
Do you see the fight going to ground or being a stand up battle?
Costa: Due to Don’s Muay Thai experience stand up is he where he will be best. He has been training his heart out in the wrestling and ground areas of his game, but he hasn’t put them to the test in competition like his stand up and I feel that’s where his weakness will be.
Don: I don’t think anyone can call what the fight is going to be. We obviously both have a game plan, whether that game plan goes exactly according to plan is never a guarantee. I know I am ready for the fight, whatever that fight is.
“The best fight in EFC Africa’s history! I want that title”
What weaknesses can you see in your opponents fighting ability and how will you be taking advantage of them?
Costa: I plan to expose the holes in Don’s game and take full advantage of them. With regard to my above answer I feel it will be Don’s lack of a tried and tested game in the competition that will stand out.
Don: Not worried about what he can or cannot do.
How do you see the fight ending?
Costa: This fight is definitely not going the distance.
Don: I didn’t come here to lose.
What can fans expect when the bell goes for round 1 on fight night?
Costa: Both Don and I come out super aggressive, so round 1 is going to be the most explosive round of the fight, not to be missed.
Don: The best fight in EFC Africa’s history! I want that title.
What do you think will be going through your mind as you enter the cage on the 27th June?
Costa: Absolute calm. Once I walk through those curtains I always feel at peace and it is where I’m supposed to be.
Don: No idea.
Do you have any words for Don?
Costa: I plan to do the talking in the cage. My only hope for the fight however is that Don comes in the best shape, so that I can beat him at his absolute best.
Don: See you on the 27th June.
With EFC Africa now being broadcast live on SuperSport. What do you see that doing for the sport of MMA?
Costa: The sport of MMA is action packed from beginning to end and absolutely the best spectator value you can get. With SuperSport, people that haven’t had the privilege of being exposed to the sport now have the opportunity and the fighters are going to be blown away with a flood of new fans and supporters. I feel there will also be a flood of new sponsors getting involved in the sport when they realise the following and exposure MMA and EFC Africa gets in Africa and worldwide. This will just grow the sport even more and bring so many more talented athletes into the game.
Don: It’s a massive step forward for the future of the sport in SA. I think it shows just how popular MMA has become as well as how much it has grown. With SuperSport now on board, I think it is only going to go from strength to strength.