Recently I got the opportunity to speak with surging finisher and Straight Blast Gym Ireland prospect Frans ‘The Black Mamba’ Mlambo, who makes his second walk under the Bellator MMA banner this weekend, as the South African features on the main card of Bellator 227 this Friday from the 3Arena in Dublin. Taking on fellow bantamweight youngster Dominique Wooding, as the Londoner makes his 135-pound bow against the exciting Mlambo. Both men enter the contest looking to two score a two-fight win streak with the promotion, as Mlambo dispatched fellow prospect Nathan Greyson last time out, while Wooding finished David Khalsa with strikes.
The former Brave CF all-rounder made the transition to Scott Coker’s Bellator MMA in June this year, and picked up a major scalp with his guillotine stoppage of the aforementioned Greyson. During his time with the Bahrain based Brave Combat Federation Mlambo established a 4-3 record, but now under contract with Bellator, the 28-year-old is excited with the chance to fight on home-soil.
“Mainly the difference (between promotions) is that the fights were in London, rather than Bahrain or Jordan. All in all it’s kind of the same feel. Obviously for this fight it’s going to be a totally different experience. It’s at home, it’s in Dublin, I’m close to home all my people with be there, usually that doesn’t happen because I’m fighting abroad.“
Arriving to Bellator just three months ago, Mlambo made an impressive statement on his bow with the promotion, as he scored a stoppage of Nathan Greyson. Before the bout, Greyson had only been stopped by original Bellator Dublin headliner Cal ‘Pacino’ Ellenor. Mlambo told of his wariness of a fast start from the former Cage Warriors flyweight best before the contest.
“Yeah that fight was cool. People told me (Nathan) Greyson was going to be a good fighter, but the maddest thing about it was, when we got in the cage when we were actually fighting, he was a total different person to what people describe him as. Even before the fight, I heard he was going to rush, throw a load of kicks, he didn’t do any of that. I think he threw like one kick the whole fight, he was very calm and collected. I just went with the flow which is what I usually do in a fight. I waited for that neck, I knew eventually I’d catch onto that, in training I’m always working on takedown defense in that way, and it worked out.“
Against the 6-2 Wooding, Mlambo is overjoyed at the prospect of facing a striker once again and believes the comparison between the Londoner and teammate Greyson are a tad far-fetched.
“(Dominique) Wooding is an interesting one, because people are saying he’s the exact same as Greyson, just much better. Obviously they’re good friends and they train together and stuff like that, and they’ve got a lot of things off each other. I don’t look at the fact that they train together as if Wooding is going to be like Nathan. I’m expecting a good fight, he’s a striker and that brings joy to my heart, I love fighting strikers. I’m very excited, it’s going to be an exciting fight, it’s so exciting that we got pushed up to the main card. At first, it wasn’t a main card fight so that just goes to show everybody that’s watching is very excited, and I’m definitely, definitely excited for it.“
in the space of just seven months, we’ve seen the Bellator cage touch down on Irish soil twice, a fact Mlambo isn’t surprised by. The influx of talent from the regional scene in Ireland to Bellator in particular, is no shock according to the Dubliner, given the massive amount of talent within the shores even at a young age.
“To be honest, It’s expected like. There’s so many good fighters in Ireland, like obviously Ireland is known for being very good at boxing. I see loads of kids coming up even in SBG that are just unbelievable. I’m talking about fifteen (years-old) onwards, these kids have serious, serious skill. Obviously Bellator have caught onto that and are taking a lot of fighters from Ireland on, but I think there is going to be way more coming through in the next while, and not just Bellator, I’m talking about MMA in general is going to be filled with Irish fighters in the near future I’m very sure.“
When asked about his ideal dinner party guests if he could invite just three, Frans had this to say.
“Check out these names, it would be Walter Veith, and then it would Christopher Hudson and Doug Bachelor. All of them are preachers that I listen to quite often. Three people in general who I would be interested in listening to are these three preachers, I’m a Christian and I always listen to these guys and I’d love to sit down beside them and talk to them. If you’re talking about fighters it would have to be Anderson Silva.“