By Jake Smith
Two former African Open competitors compete at Extreme Fighting Championship Worldwide 86, on Saturday June 12th.
Former EFC Bantamweight champion, Luthando Biko, will make his return to the cage for the first time in 16 months, when he faces Gian Souza in a Flyweight contest.
Over an 11 month period, Biko became a regular in the EFC bantamweight division, competing four times and claiming four dominant victories. This culminated in a showdown with Brit, Cal ‘Pacino’ Ellenor, for the interim 135lbs title. After 25 minutes of pure wrestling dominance, Biko was crowned the king at Bantamweight. In April 2019, Biko looked to unify his strap against champion, JP Buys. Buys came out on top, with a 4th round stoppage and after just one more bout, he joined the UFC via the contender series.
Standing at 4ft 11, the aptly nicknamed ‘Shorty’ will be looking to reign dominant in his new venture at 125lbs, as he did at 135lbs. He faces a tough challenge, with undefeated Brazllian, Gian Patolino Souza, standing across the cage from him. Fighting out of the illustrious Pitbull Brothers gym, Souza carries the power synonymous with his coaches, with his last two bouts displaying his devastating striking ability.
Having only featured once in an IMMAF tournament, Biko made sure it counted. His sole competition was the 2016 IMMAF All Africa Championships. In the opening round, he faced Katiso Matime. ‘Shorty’ only needed half of the first round before locking in a kimura and submitting Matime. In the final, Biko came up against Shaun Taylor. After three hard fought rounds, Biko took his second and final win of the tournament, this time coming by way of split decision. With that, Biko got his first taste of championship gold.
Opening the card, South Africa’s number one ranked Featherweight, Shannon van Tonder makes his highly anticipated professional debut.
Van Tonder’s sole IMMAF appearance came at the 2019 IMMAF-WMMAA Africa Open Championships where he faced the vastly more experienced Enrique Hecher Sosa on the opening day. Van Tonder found himself on the wrong side of the decision, thus signalling an end to his IMMAF journey. The loss would prove to be Van Tonder’s sole defeat in the amateur ranks. He finished his amateur journey with an impressive 9-1-1 record.
With over half of his amateur victories coming via way of submission, Van Tonder is renowned for his slick ground game. It will be interesting to see how it transitions into the professional game, having an extra two minutes per round to work.
Welcoming Van Tonder to the professional game, Jean-Marie Kabeya, poses a relatively unknown threat. Having only competed once, he is returning to the cage following a five year hiatus. Van Tonder will be keen to make a monumental impact and draw a lot of attention to himself with an impressive victory.