KweséESPN Staff 190d

Du Plessis makes light work of Da Rocha at EFC59

MMA

Dricus du Plessis successfully defended his welterweight title with a first-round TKO of Jose da Rocha at at EFC 59 at Carnival City, Johannesburg on Saturday night.

'Stillknocks', who reversed position swiftly after initially getting taken down by the Brazilian, got the stoppage with some aggressive "ground" and pound to improve his record to 10-1-0.

Du Plessis said: "Thanks so much to everyone who came to support, it means so much to me to defend this belt, to keep it in my country South Africa. Brazil is the fight capital of the world, but South Africa, the African continent has some talent and we are here to stay. We can compete with anyone in the world no matter where you are from."

Da Rocha (7-4-0) took the fight at short notice in the absence of Ireland's Henry Fadipe.

Frenchman Phillipe Rouch caused a stir on his EFC debut as he handed bantamweight contender Francois Groenewald the first submission loss of his career.

The contest was largely a grappling seminar, with Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Groenewald having the better of the exchanges in the opening two frames as he pursued a fourth straight victory in the Hexagon.

Rouch, however, started the third instalment strongly, rocking 'Franaconda' with an uppercut before catching the Straight Blast Gym Cape Town standout with a triangle choke to get the tap.

A fifth consecutive victory betters Rouch's record to 6-3-0, while South Africa's Groenewald is 11-7-0.

In other action, Englishman Joe Cummins made short work of Shaun de Lange in their welterweight match-up as he submitted the fan-favourite with a rear-naked choke in the first round.

While a striking war was expected, Cummins showed his versatility on his return a year after Themba Gorimbo gave him his sole defeat in five fights.

South Africa's De Lange, who edged veteran campaigner Dino Bagattin with a split decision in his previous outing , saw his record dip to 4-3-0.

Earlier, bragging rights were put on ice as Pierre Botha and Azi Thomas battled to a majority draw in their featherweight tussle.

Botha showcased his Commonwealth wrestling pedigree in the first frame, getting an early takedown and maintaining top position, but doing little damage.

The second stanza saw a reversal of roles as Botha spent most of the time on his back as Thomas worked the ground and pound with likewise limited effect.

Botha took Thomas down early into the final round, then landed an illegal knee to the head of the Welshman and was crucially docked a point. Botha quickly got the fight to the ground at the restart, but had to ward off triangle and armbar submission attempts just before the bell.

The shared spoils left the South African's record at 7-4-1 and Thomas's at 7-3-1.

Alain 'Commanda Boy' Ilunga opened the main card in style, knocking out Barend 'BB Gun' Nienaber at lightweight with a spinning back kick to the jaw.

After a cagey round-and-a-half, which saw ex-featherweight contender Nienaber unsuccessfully pursue the takedown, DR Congo's Ilunga pulled off the highlight reel finish for a fifth consecutive victory.

The Fight Fit Militia product improved his record to 10-5-0, while a second loss in a row saw Team CIT's Nienaber slip to 5-4.

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