Mixed martial arts ace returns after year-long, career-threatening injury hiatus
After undergoing surgery that should have ended his professional fighting career, Port Elizabeth mixed martial artist Cameron Pritchard is heading back to the cage this weekend, with a title shot looming if he steps out victorious.
The stage is set for the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC), Africa’s biggest MMA promotion, to present a thrilling fight card at the Grand West Casino in Cape Town tomorrow, with welterweight Pritchard, 27, opening the main card against EFC veteran and former division champion Dino Bagattin, 35.
“I am super excited for this fight, but as always there are some nerves too,” Pritchard, of Bluewater Bay, said.
“My biggest fear is not performing when it is expected of me.” He returns to EFC undefeated and after spending a year in recovery from a knee injury that could have ended his career.”
“I thought my recovery would be a couple of weeks, but it turned into a nightmare that stretched over months,” he said.
“It was the worst pain I had ever experienced. I literally had to learn to walk again. “But you know how it goes. You start crawling, then walking, and suddenly we were running again. Now I just can’t wait to step back into the cage.”
Pritchard ’s coach and MMA legend Chris Bright said his protege had never looked more focused heading into a fight.
“We are so proud of all the hard work Cam put in after his operation,” he said.
“The last few months have been so intense, and he is looking incredibly sharp.”
Bright said the possibility of a title shot after this fight was a great opportunity for Pritchard to show his true potential.
“Cam has already established himself as a strong contender in the welterweight division, and a win over Bagattin would surely prove he is worthy of a shot at the belt.”
EFC matchmaker Graeme Cartmell said they had planned on throwing Pritchard into a title fight against current champion Dricus du Plessis immediately after his return, but decided to give him a chance to shake off the ring rust.
“We believe this bout between Pritchard and Bagattin is the perfect fight,” he said.
“We are always looking for exciting fights, and with everything that is at stake here we can expect an absolute spectacle.”
“Every fight at this coming event can lead to something more. We have young guys trying to prove themselves, we have championships on the line, and in Pritchard’s case we have a number-one-contender spot looming.”
“Pritchard said Bagattin promised to be a tough opponent and he had a lot of respect for the fighter from Johannesburg, but he planned to put the former champion away and move on to bigger things.”
“Dino will surely be a tough opponent, but he is the guy standing between me and my shot at the belt.”
“All I ever wanted since starting my career was an EFC title, and I believe my time has arrived. I am coming back in a big way.”