By Munyaradzi Madzokere
Zimbabwean mixed martial arts champion Themba Gorimbo believes his title defence against Australian Lyle Karam at the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) 84 event at Time Square in Pretoria, South Africa, last month was enough to earn him a contract in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
UFC is the largest mixed martial arts promotion company in the world and is based in the United States.
Gorimbo, who is the country’s reigning Sportsperson of the Year, defeated Karam via submission (triangle choke) inside two minutes and six seconds in the second round of the fight.
It was Gorimbo’s first title defence match against the previously undefeated Australian.
“The victory means I am there already. I just need to get where I need to be and that is to get that UFC contract. Once that UFC contract is there, everything will go according to plan, I will become a champion there in the UFC,” Gorimbo told Standardsport in an exclusive interview.
“I am close to getting that contract. It’s just a matter of signing things so I just have to keep working hard. At the moment we just need to let this coronavirus pandemic pass and good things will come, I am very positive.”
The athlete — popularly known as The Answer — made history in September last year when he became the first-ever EFC Mixed Martial Arts champion from Zimbabwe.
After the momentous victory, the Masvingo-born and bred Gorimbo thought he would get the UFC contract at the end of the year, but it didn’t come.
While the victory over Karam certainly grew Gorimbo’s profile in the mixed martial arts industry, for him he is somewhat disappointed with himself.
“If feels normal [after beating Karam]. I see these things before they happen, not that I have a gift, but I work hard enough to know what will happen in my fights,” he said.
“I am actually disappointed that I didn’t win by a knockout, which is what I wanted.
“But it’s good to fight a guy that trains at a big gym in Australia and it is good I have a victory over him.
“I am the first one to beat him and I beat him convincingly, which is good.”
The 28-year-old fighter revealed his plan to change his nickname from The Answer to Mamba.
“My friend Daniel and I came up with the name – The Answer. “He said to me ‘you seem to be the guy that always has the answer when people doubt you’ and that’s how the name stuck on me,” he said.
“The Answer to doubters who didn’t believe I would win any fight. I love the name, but maybe I will soon change to the Mamba.”