Quintin van Jaarsveld
Fight fans filled Uvongo Town Hall as Parabellum Fight League (PFL) got off to a smashing start on Saturday.
Eighteen athletes showcased their skill and will in the first mixed martial arts (MMA) event on the South Coast in five years.
Gary Smit, who headlined that last card (Africa Fight League 15) at the same venue in 2013, is the man behind PFL and put on an action-packed inaugural event highlighted by knockouts, submissions and an all-out battle.
The action got underway in the welterweight division where Darren Hart, one of four Margate-based Parabellum Gym and MMA Club debutants, took on Silverbacks ace Lucky Bahati.
Bahati scored a well-timed takedown early on to put the local favourite on his back, and worked impressive ground and pound, which saw Hart give up his back and Bahati sink in a rear-naked choke to claim a first-round win.
The lightweight bout between Lindokuhle Mkasibe (TNS) and David Mambo (Silverbacks) was a barnburner that had it all – striking, grappling and submission attempts.
In a back-and-forth brawl that went the distance, it was Mambo who eked out a hard-fought win by split decision.
Parabellum’s Tyronne Schiller had his home crowd on their feet as he tapped out Answer Doyisa (Silverbacks) with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their lightweight contest.
Then it was time for another crowd favourite, ex-South Coaster Ilana van Schalkwyk (Smackworks), who looked sensational in her 40-second TKO win over fellow newcomer Isolda van Aarde (Garage Boys).
Ashley Maistry (Silverbacks) spoiled Westley Naaiman’s debut as he caught the Parabellum fighter with a left hook in the first round of their middleweight match-up to triumph by TKO.
Parabellum welterweight Ruan Irving took on Gorgeous Boyz Hardcore product Maradona Kamembo in the main event.
Kamembo, who won both of his previous fights, drew on his experience to get the local rookie to the ground. From there, he moved into mount and rained down vicious ground and pound to pick up a first-round TKO victory.
“Tonight exceeded my wildest expectations,” Smit told eHowzit.
“We saw skillful athletes and had some really interesting fights, most of them being finished in the first round. It was a great event and it was well supported by the community. Everyone’s already asking when the next event is going to be, so everything definitely went according to plan.
“Thanks to our sponsors the Village Tavern, Wolf Security, Giorgio’s, Comfort Cool, Plumbright, Breakers Restaurant, Hibiscus Brokers, Spur and HMP Braid, and a huge thanks to the athletes, the officials from SAMMA and to everyone who came out and supported the event.”
The 31-year-old is an MMA trailblazer, who in 2015 became the first lower South Coast fighter to enter the Extreme Fighting Championship Hexagon and has won both of his heavyweight bouts in the international promotion.
As the owner of Parabellum, he’s been coaching MMA for a number of years and had long envisioned starting his own fight promotion. Saturday’s successful show saw him realise this dream and was the culmination of months of hard work and planning.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so I spent many hours on the concept on the league. Because this was the first event, I gave myself three months to prepare for it. With the knowledge I’ve gained, I’m sure the next one will prove less intense to organise.”
PFL will serve as a platform for amateur fighters to test their mettle and make a name for themselves.
Over and above that, Smit stressed, “Parabellum Fight League, as well as the club’s main focus is to detour the very common mentality that MMA is seen as a thug sport. I want fighters to be recognised as the athletes they very much are. We will be promoting the sportsmanship of MMA to the fullest extent.”
Looking ahead, Smit said, “I’d like to have an event every three or four months, and I’m aiming to put on the next one around February.”
Photos by Hollie Cano
*Watch cell phone footage of the first half of PFL’s inaugural card below*