It’s been a successful month for Garden’s Pride Fighting Academy (PFA) following Chris Dove and Saxon Delafield’s wins at the Extreme Fighting Championships (EFC75) at GrandWest a fortnight ago.
The night was made special by both fighters who dedicated the wins to their families. Dove in particular attributed his win to the inspiration given by a group of former Navy colleagues who started singing in the arena.
Dove said he started off as a Muay Thai fighter travelling numerous times to Thailand to take part in championships.
“I love Thailand, basically Muay Thai was my bread and butter and Thailand my home away from home because of Muay Thai. I fought Muay Thai at Phetch Bancha Koh Samui, the number one stadium in Thailand, against Bangla Stadium champion James Heelan and I was hand selected to compete in the stadiums’ 12th anniversary against him.
“I’m now trying to master gland and grappling. I found a new love in Jiu Jitsu thanks to coach Brandon Hoffman. I am excited to showcase some of the techniques I’m learning. It’s good to have the confidence to incubate,” he said.
A fortnight ago, Dove defeated Bellville’s Corne Blom via a TKO due to ground and pound strikes in round one of the EFC75 featherweight fight.
In front of a packed arena, with crowds coming from as far as the United Kingdom, it was Dove’s first official win in EFC following a loss against Serge “Last Number” Kasanda earlier this year.
“I train at Gardens. In my first fight I barely had training. Being me, on Monday I was eating a chocolate muffin and in the same week I had to fight on Saturday. I could have said no to EFC at the time, but I saw it as an opportunity to break into my childhood dream. I was not prepared, I had recently had an operation on the ear,” he said.
Dove said with proper training, he was able to pull off a stunning first round victory.
“Before the fight I was very calm. The first fight I didn’t have that, I had goosebumps. On Saturday (last week) while I was back stage I could hear the Navy divers singing. My coach said stop and listen, and I sang along because it was a special song sung in the Navy. It gave me the inspiration to win.
“I spent four years in the Navy, I was listed in 2014, and I only left the Navy this year. I left a comfortable job that I literally enjoyed to follow my dream.
“I told my fiancée that I could already feel the shadow of the cameras under my feet,” he said.
Dove said he beat Blom at his own game, on the floor.
“My kids are my two pitbulls. I’m currently engaged and hoping to tie the knot in November next year. My fiancée is also a diver, my father is in the military, we love our country. When they heard I was fighting in the EFC, they were excited, and I ended up beating my opponent at his own game (grappling),” he said.
Dove said he is training to specialise in grappling.
He is inspired by former UFC champion, Jon “Bones” Jones.
“We determine our reality. You can be whoever you want to be. People will have their opinions, look, when I said I wanted to join EFC, people would mock me and laugh, saying I can’t do it. Those very same people now can’t believe it or are cheering. Follow your dream,” he said.
Coach Michael Mouneimne said Dove came into the gym a couple of years ago to train before he decided to go pro.
“The energy has been great after the win. We are going to go back to training to fix where we need to improve.
“I fought many times. I fought pro in kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA. I now coach full time.
“For any good fighter, the important thing is to stay disciplined. Realise discipline is a lifestyle, you do not go to a fighting camp.
“Stay disciplined and don’t do what the normal person does,” he said.
Instructor Brandon Hoffman said both of his fighters, Dove and Delafield have the discipline, motivation, support and the mindset to become champions.
“As long as they stay focused and put in the hard work, they can achieve anything.”