Cape Town - EFC women’s strawweight champion Chiara Penco labelled Karolina Wójcik a warrior for agreeing to face her on two week’s notice.
Penco (4-0) was initially set to defend her belt for the first time against Cheyanne Vlismas (2-1) in the EFC 76 headliner at Time Square in Pretoria on December 8.
However, Vlismas withdrew due to health complications, according to an EFC press release sent out on Monday afternoon.
Part of the statement read: ‘Vlismas has been withdrawn due to medical complications in the lead-up to fight night. While it is unclear as to her diagnosis currently, her blood samples have been sent for testing. Doctors have advised that it would not be safe for her to continue training, cutting weight and fight while still recovering.’
Poland’s Wójcik (3-1) consequently stepped up as a late replacement - much to the relief of undefeated Italian Penco.
“Honour to you and to your decision of taking the fight on such short notice,” Penco told mmaengage.com.
“You are a warrior and I appreciate this. Talk the talk and walk the walk.
“See you in the cage!”
Penco brushed off the adjustment she’s had to make to her preparations and will naturally look to test Wójcik’s cardio given her truncated training camp.
“Fights go in many different ways, and each fight has its story ... that is the beauty of the fight game.
“But I’m ready for a five-round fight ... we’ll see how hard she can push.”
England-based Wójcik (3-1) lost a split decision to Vlismas in their respective promotional debuts in October, a showdown which earned Fight-of-the-Night honours.
Before Penco clashes with Wójcik, ex-UFC fighter Ruan Potts (11-6) will battle America’s Jared Vanderaa (7-3) for the interim heavyweight belt in the co-main event next month.
The main card also features former heavyweight champ Andrew van Zyl (19-4) against Stuart Austin (12-5), welterweight contender Conrad Seabi (6-4) versus late replacement Jose da Rocha (9-5), and Dallas Jakobi (6-5-1) against Gordon Roodman (3-6-1).
The prelims include: Marino Cutendana vs Martin de Beer, Niel du Plessis (2-1) vs Roger Griffin (3-6), Pietie Coxen (5-8) vs Justin Smith (2-0), Billy Oosthuizen (3-0) vs Tumisang Madiba (7-6), Asiashu Tshitamba (1-1) vs Takunda Gorimbo (1-0), Devon Cronje (2-1) vs Orlando Machaba (0-0), and Marcel Els (2-2) vs Jean-Marie Kabeya (0-1).