By Ross Patterson
Team South Africa (MMASA) will be looking to make a statement at the IMMAF World Championships in Abu Dhabi later this month, COVID restrictions permitting. They currently sit at 45th place on the National Team Rankings, but are aiming to break into the top 10 once again.
The team is made up of 14 athletes, 2 coaches and a Team Manager. After Provincial trials, a National event was held where the final team was selected. Vuyo Jula is the only athlete from the 2019 World Championships who will be competing again this year, so Team South Africa will have plenty of fresh talent to watch out for.
Jason Brown, the Chief Executive of MMASA named some promising athletes including Nathanial Kamara, Allistar Kunene, Khaya Ntombela, Esteban Van Der Berg, Demi Van Zyl and Vuyo Jula.
Another name to keep an eye on, not just for athletic ability, is Ethienne Reynecke. His story includes some incredible adversity, having suffered a gunshot wound and a stroke. He has taken these hardships and turned them into fuel, writing a book about his experience and now training with UFC athlete Dricus Du Plessis.
MMASA is recognised by the South African Sport Ministry, so has permission to proudly wear the national colours of South Africa in the Championships.
South Africa has been making huge strides in women’s participation in MMA. Four female athletes are on the team this year, up from just 1 at the last outing, plus a female Team Manager.
South Africa is currently on the UAE Covid Red List, which may make travel difficult but, if they make it to the World Championships, they will be fielding a dynamic, fresh team, and may well end up in the top 10 rankings once again.