While some fighters exchanged blows during the Mixed Martial Arts South Africa (MMASA) Amateur Championship in Johannesburg a fortnight ago, others battled it out in their own cage in the Cape Storm Promotion in Melkbosstrand.
With fight fans having been starved of fighting for a long time because of the Covid-19 lockdown, the past few weeks had no shortage of outstanding performances.
Like all athletes who had to take an enforced break, Denver Isaacs had to put his quest for a pro career on hold.
The 24-year-old finally had the chance to make an impression at the Cape Storm championships on April 10 and he did just that, with a 29-second knock out, taking winning his tally to 3-0, all coming via a way of stoppage.
Isaacs says when he steps inside the octagon, he blocks out everything that may distract him. It is just him and the guy he has to step over to reach his goal.
That might explain why his three fights have not made it to the judges for a decision, as they were finished soon after he stepped inside the cage.
A true student of the combat sport, “The Inevitable” as he is called in fight scenes, says the return of fighting is exciting, including the return of Extreme Fighting Championships (EFC), which he hopes to compete in.
With the first fight behind him since the easing of lockdown regulations, the road is clear ahead for him to be as active as he possibly can.
“I am just hungry for fighting. My plan is to go pro eventually so I just need to fight as often as I can.”
He is confident that this year will be a breakout year for him and that his pro career will happen sooner rather than later.
Isaacs is not only looking to make his own way in the sport of MMA but wants to see the sport easily accessible in all corners of the country.
“We have this fighting thing in our blood as Africans, we just need a platform to express ourselves,” he says.
“There weren’t any gyms where I grew up in Robertson and it was only when my father took me out that I started being exposed to fighting because he is the one who started teaching me karate even though he himself never had any formal training, just being naturally gifted in fighting.”
What’s even more impressive about Isaacs is that he took part in his first fight within the first year of taking up MMA.
And that came on the advice of his coach from the time he spent in Port Elizabeth. The coach must have seen something impressive about his striking to throw him in the deep end of combat sport that early.
“When I went to port Elizabeth it was the first time I stepped into a training facility in 2018 and I did my first MMA fight in the same year.
“Usually when you start you do tournaments to get used to fighting and wear all the protective gear but I just went straight to a cage with no experience whatsoever.”
That proved to be no problem for the bantamweight prospect as he ended the fight with ground and pound in the second round after knocking down his opponent with a head kick.
His come up in the sport is quite familiar with combat fighters who take up the sport because of bullying at school. Isaacs says his small stature and being the lightest kid in completion with blue eyes, opened him to all sorts of ridicule from fellow pupils.
But it was only after his visit to Port Elizabeth where he joined a kickboxing gym.
Now a member of Woodstock’s Top Primate Gym after moving to Cape Town to further his education, he believes there is something great awaiting him in combat sport, and just like his ring name, it is bound to happen.
Isaacs is a striker with a karate brown belt and in his Muay Thai specialising gym, his stand-up game can only get better from here on.
Talking about his cage moniker, he says it’s not just a name but part of the values he lives by, knowing that no obstacle will stand in his way through life and his career in combat sport.
“We all have been predestined with something we are supposed to do in this earth and with having to play my part and not just accept the conditions we grew up under. I believe this is a gift for me,” said Isaacs.