BY TERRY MADYAUTA
AFTER winning the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) bantamweight division in South Africa back in May, Zimbabwean Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) star Sylvester Chipfumbu has been presented with a golden opportunity to take his career in the combat sport to the next level.
The Gweru-born fighter has a chance to make the big leap to the highly lucrative Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) when he fights Brazilian Vinicius de Oliveira in the main fight of the night at the UAE Warriors 24f at the Jiu Jitsu Arena in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
The upcoming fight will be a golden opportunity for the EFC bantamweight champion to impress the UFC president Dana White, who is expected to be in attendance to film an episode of “Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight.”
The Las Vegas-based UFC is the largest and richest MMA organisation in the world.
Under White’s leadership, the UFC has grown into a globally popular multi-billion-dollar enterprise, slowly making inroads into Africa, with the Zimbabwean duo of Chipfumbu and Themba hotly tipped to become the latest stars on the continent to earn contracts.
Initially, Gorimbo was the only Zimbabwean set to feature in the UAE Warriors, but Chipfumbu was also given a last minute opportunity.
For Chipfumbu, this bout in the United Arab Emirates is a golden chance to prove his worth in front of White and a grand platform of making his name known at a global stage.
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A win will earn him another belt, but most importantly he could win a contract to fight in the UFC in the United States of America if he impresses White.
The 29-year-old is bullish ahead of this bout, but acknowledges that it will not be easy to knock out De Oliviera, who sits on an impressive record of 16 wins in 18 professional fights.
Oliveira (16-2) captured the title by knocking out Xavier Alaoui at UAE Warriors 18 and heads into next weekend’s title defence riding a five-fight winning streak. however, Chipfumbu, known as the Gladiator, is confident of winning.
“It’s a massive fight, but I don’t want to be carried away by the fact that Dana White will be there and possibly many people will be watching, so I am going to take this like every other fight.
“I don’t want to put much pressure on myself. It’s just going to be a normal day in the office for me, that way I know I will do my best and that is to win.
“The fight came at a short notice, but luckily I have been training because one of my guys, Themba was supposed to be training in the UAE so I have been his main training partner. I was also carrying a bit of weight so the training worked well for me. I am ready, I was born ready,” Chipfumbu said.
The former Zimbabwe national team karateka is, however, not reading much into his opponent’s record and how he fights considering the time he has left to prepare for this fight.
“I am focusing on me and my preparations. I won’t focus on my opponent because the fight is a week away.
“So I don’t want to think about him, but only focus on my strengths and see what comes out on the 29th. I am just going there to get what’s mine.
“This is the highest stage of fighting and people present different styles of fighting and that’s the same with me, so all I have to do is focus on myself.
“We have left no stone unturned so far, and we still have more days to perfect ourselves going into this fight,” he added.
Another Zimbabwean fighter Gorimbo is also set to compete on this day, in what has been dubbed the African invasion of the UAE Warriors championship.
Gorimbo will look to punch his ticket to the UFC when he faces Russian Ramazan Kurmagomedov at UAE Warriors 24 on Friday.
The reigning Zimbabwe Sportsperson of the Year hasn’t competed since defending his title with a second-round submission of Lyle Karam in March 2020 at EFC 84.
“This is the stars aligning for me to get into the UFC,” Gorimbo said recently. “Fighting in front of Dana White was something that was supposed to happen on the Contender Series, and I did not get a chance to because of the visa situation. I believe that the stars have aligned for me to win in an impressive fashion in front of Dana to earn my spot in the UFC.”