Cape Town - African MMA fans could potentially see EFC Featherweight champion and 17-fight champion Igeu “Smiley” Kabesa fight for the last time in Johannesburg tomorrow when he defends his 145-strap against SA's Vince Bembe at EFC 104.
Kabesa is close to making his debut in the US’ Professional Fighters League after he dominated the African continent with 15 wins and only two losses.
The DRC-born wrestling phenom first clinched the EFC Featherweight title when he overcame South Africa’s Hanru Botha via guillotine choke at EFC 56 before losing the title to Scotland’s Danny Henry in his next fight.
Henry had then relinquished his title, providing Kabesa another shot where he successfully reclaimed the throne after overcoming Hanru’s brother, Pierre, at EFC 62 before going on a four-fight win streak.
Igeu Kabesa defends his Featherweight Championship belt against his most dangerous challenger yet, Vince Bembe at #EFC104 🤜🤛— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) June 14, 2023
📺 Watch it LIVE this Thursday at 19:00 (CAT) on SS Action pic.twitter.com/pr4lEzstvl
Shortly after the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, the South African-based star put his title on the line against the dangerous Brazilian Reinaldo Ekson, who stunned the MMA universe with an arm triangle choke to become the new champion.
Despite ruling the roost for years, Kabesa remained composed, coining the phrase “Smiley in victory and Smiley in defeat” and shortly after a win over MMA veteran Ashley Calvert, Kabesa became three-time EFC Featherweight champion when he stopped the dangerous Angolan Nerik Simoes in the third round via rear-naked choke at EFC 95 before making light work of Bradley Swanepoel with a quick first-round finish at EFC 99.
Kabesa will now put his title on the line for the last time potentially when he meets the power-punching grappler in Vince Bembe - a student of Cedric Doyle - who is unbeaten in four fights with wins over DRC’s Trezeguet Kanyinda, SA’s Calvert and Sizwe Mnikathi and one draw against Scotland’s Keir Harvie.
Marking his 10th year at the top of Africa’s premier promotion, Kabesa enters the EFC arena putting his most precious asset and the future of his career on the line against a man who has never been knocked out and refuses to back down.
Combining a thunderous right hand with a grinding submission game, the determined Bembe is on a path to destroy the veteran wrestler and grab the belt after recording only one loss since making his pro debut. But can he stop the champion, who has an impressive resumé after defeating a handful of great athletes over time?