JOHANNESBURG – Bianca Stander could have taken a leaf out of Aneesha Mayman’s book on day two of the Mixed Martial Arts South African Amateur Championship.
The latter pulled off one of the upsets of the day after earning a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) win over the Professional Fighting Championship strawweight champion at the AMMA Underground in Edenvale on Saturday.
In the elimination structured event, Aneesha did well to listen to her coach and stick to her strengths and game-plan, neutralising her opponent who is renowned for her strong ground game.
Bianca was a complete shell of the athlete who beat Aneesha’s PFA (Professional Fighting Academy) teammate, Jessica Mouneimne late last year to earn the PFC title.
That fight saw a well-prepared Jessica dominate Bianca in the opening exchanges almost closing the fight with a locked-in armbar, however, a lack of killer instinct from Jessica coupled with the resilience of Bianca saw the latter transition beautifully with the fantastic coaching voice of Ferdi Basson in her ear to see the Gauteng athlete walk away with gold on the night.
On Saturday, Bianca failed to implement her gameplan or listen to the technical and ever-present Gauteng coach, JP Kruger who has guided many of his athletes with aplomb this weekend, claiming lots of victories thus far. Some – including coach Ferdi, who could not coach due to being the Vice President of MMASA – believe it was the lack of coach Ferdi’s voice that is key to Bianca’s game.
But take nothing away from Aneesha, who is still very new to the fight game.
“Heading into this tournament, I was 1-0,” says the Western Cape athlete who claimed two further victories including a win over Saskia Jade Jantjes via ref’s stoppage in the second round on Friday.
“It was vital for me to listen to my coach (Mike Mouneimne).
“I am more of a stand-up fighter, and I know she likes the ground, so I just stayed calm and listened to my coach to get through that first round. Bianca is a tough girl … strong, but I realised in the first round that she was tired. After that I knew I could take it,” says Aneesha who stuffed various takedowns and controlled the distance well, using her strong stand-up skills to pick away at her opponent.
“It was a great moment to have my hand raised after the fight. This has been such a whirlwind, I came here to get some Mixed Martial Arts fight experience and of course, you hope for the best, but I can’t believe I am in the final,” says Aneesha who has only been training MMA for two years now.
In the finals on Sunday – which could decide who qualifies for International Mixed Martial Arts Federation World Championship in Kazakhstan taking place later this year, – Aneesha will face Gauteng’s Cassandra Le Roux – who medalled in the 2018 IMMAF World Championship – in the final of the strawweight division.
This article was sponsored by The Capital Hotel and Apartments.