It’s as gritty and unrestrained as MMA itself: SMACKtalk’s “No Holds Barred” interview with XFC Africa President, Arnie Williams, is aggressive and uncompromising, leaving politics behind and getting “real.” He’s blatant, brutally honest, and gives fans an authentic representation of the MMA scene in South Africa.
Williams discusses his induction into fighting, training with Johan Haywood in the Art of Shute Boxing and his involvement in Johannesburg’s illegal casinos’ underground fights, making it evident why he named his promotion “Fight Club;” “…there was no such thing as MMA. We used to fight wrestlers against boxers, kickboxers against brawlers, etc… It was real tough man, not like the fighters today.” He goes on to call all the fighters today “primadonnas” who “want to fight when it pleases them,” “are constantly injured,” and “are so full of drugs, recreational and other, that they don’t sometimes even know the time of day.”
Of the quality of fighters in SA, Williams lists a “handful” of pro’s: Jeremy Smith, Donavin Hawkey, Darren Daniels, Chris Bright, and Rico Hatting, expressing that any of the other South African fighters would get “slaughtered” anywhere in the USA or Europe; “Look at what happened to Wentzel Nel, poor guy. Then you have to blame the promoter for BAD matchup. This makes our fighters look bad in the eyes of the overseas market.” For South African fighters to be successful, Williams says they must be fighting on the undercard of the smaller organizations “to at least give them a 50/50 chance” and goes on to say that all of the fighters he is bringing to South Africa from the US for his highly anticipated USA vs RSA card of all international fights are “all undercard fighters.”
When asked about the South African MMA Sanctioning Body, who tried to ban his cage from tournaments when he first introduced it to South Africa, Williams cheekily responds, “What Sanctioning Body? Is that the people who have been kicked out by the Minister of Sport because they were too Lily White? Is that the people that has tried to F*ck up the MMA scene the last 3 years? … The same Sanctioning Body that is taking our Sanctioning Fee, and then refuse to sort out your Grievances cause they feel intimidated by promoters and laywers?” He calls his experiences with the South African MMA Sanctioning Body “disasterous,” and the organization a “disgrace,” “unorganized,” “powerless,” “regrettable,” and having “no teeth.” He questions the purpose of paying a Sanctioning Fee to an entity with “no power or say” and ponders, “The big question remains..with the change of the guard and the return of the PKC,will all be well and settled in the MMA world.At least Mosito Mpapathi will not be intimidated, pushed around and bribed….”
Williams challenges the competency of the MMA Sanctioning Body again when asked about the future of South African MMA; I think firstly you have to ask, Will there be a board that will have the Balls to Control MMA? Based on Yes or No, I would predict that we are currently sitting on a Fine Line between Success/Defeat.” With success, Williams predicts the development of “awesome” fighters from the amateur ranks over a two year time span, with South African MMA fighters becoming “a force to reckon with in the world.” He laments the destructive nature of bad matchups on the cards, rampant among other promotions and designed to protect their top fighters, giving them a “false sense of confidence.” He goes on to extol his belief in the freedom of fighters to fight for various promotions, saying “Our Pro Fighters should all be free agent and should be allowed to fight at any promotion in order to better themselves and preventing them from becoming human punchingbags.”
Williams intends both to continue sending XFC Africa’s fighters overseas and continuing to build his brand locally, with plans for four tournaments in 2011 at the Standard Bank Arena, finishing the year with another USA vs RSA tournament in December and booking 26 minute programmes for all their tournaments on SuperSport.
When asked about his relationship with other Promoters, Williams laughs “Ha Ha, funny. I have no relationship with other promoters, I do, though, have a wonderful relationship with the lawyer of one of the promoters.” He lambasts the other South African promoters, extolling “Money doesn’t automatically qualify you to be a Promoter, nor does lying and stealing and cheating, as we know that for every Cause there will be an Effect.” He concludes his confrontational and unrestrained interview with SMACKtalk with a message to the promoters of South Africa: “Message to other promoters- Gentlemen, RESPECT OTHERS TO BE ABLE TO RESPECT YOURSELF.”