Demarte Pena: “I’m Back For Sure!”
Demarte Pena now 14-1 with latest win
Africa, as of late, has been a hotbed for future MMA stars. With organizations such as EFC Worldwide and ARES FC, many African stars are getting their chance to showcase on a worldwide stage. With many making the leap to the UFC and other major North American organizations, there is another fighter from this fighting continent that is ready for the big lights. With fighting in his DNA, Demarte Pena is set to put Angola on the MMA map.
Early Life and Finding MMA
A professional mixed martial artist since 2011, Pena began training with Karate around the age of six or seven. While attending primary school in South Africa around 2005, Pena was introduced to MMA similar to many overseas, by UFC and Pride FC videos. “I watched videos and was mostly self-taught,” Pena told MyMMANews.
“Not many guys in South Africa did it [MMA].” Along his journey, Pena would meet a man that would forever change the trajectory of his MMA career, fellow Angolan Marino Cutendana. Cutendana, a veteran of EFC Africa and EFC Worldwide, has earned the majority of his victories via first-round finish. “He’s the one who really taught me about mixed martial arts, mostly jiu-jitsu and how MMA works. Obviously now my coaches and teammates play a massive role in shaping me into the fighter I have become,” stated Pena.
Rich Family History of Strength and Determination
A common phrase thrown around MMA is, “it’s in his DNA to be a fighter.” This phrase takes on a literal meaning for Pena, who comes from the fighting nation of Angola. Pena’s father, General Arlindo “Ben Ben” Pena, is the former military leader of UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) and Deputy Chief of Staff of Angola before his untimely passing in October 1998. The uncle of his father, Jonas Savimbi, who was UNITA’s founder. Savimbi also served as President and Supreme Commander of UNITA from 1966 until his untimely murder in 2002. “My DNA helps with the way of my resilience, but this is really child’s play compared to what they went through,” said Pena. Pena’s resilience and since of battle is evident every time he steps into a cage.
Regaining Championship Status
After becoming 2-0 in EFC Africa, Pena earned a shot at the EFC Africa featherweight championship at EFC Africa 10 in September 2011. After five rounds of action, Pena walked out of the cage as the champion after just his third professional MMA bout. Pena would go on to defend the EFC featherweight championship for two more years with five title defenses. At EFC Africa 31, Pena dropped a weight-class and captured the EFC Africa bantamweight championship against Nkazimulo Zulu. Pena would go on to defend that title fives times as well, but the last two defenses would be overturned and earn Pena a multi-year ban from the sport.
Pena would make his long awaited returned 52 months later with the ARES FC organization in April 2022. Though he suffered a defeat, it allowed Pena to regain his footing in a cage and move forward toward is goal of obtaining more championship gold. “You do lose so many things as far as familiarity. Certain feelings you have when you compete you lose. I was very excited to get back in there. Now I feel like I never left,” stated Pena. Pena would return to action six months later and pick up exactly where he left off before his layoff, defeating Moustapha Aida via unanimous decision.
At ARES FC 12, Pena would earn the opportunity for gold, competing against Elias Boudegzdame for the vacant bantamweight title. After five rounds of action, Pena was awarded the championship, beginning his climb back up the world rankings. In May 2023, Pena would be successful in his first title defense, securing a win over Mehdi Saadi.
“I’m back for sure!” stated Pena. “The goal is to eventually get to the UFC. This is a young man’s sport and I believe now I’m getting to my prime,” said Pena. Hoping to join Manel Kape as Angola representatives in the UFC, watch for this dangerous star to continue to shine.
I am a life-long MMA fan who has been a fan since UFC 1. I was born in Illinois but raised in South Louisiana, home of many great mixed martial artists. I started martial arts at the age of 4 and continued into my adult years where I served nearly 10 years in law enforcement. I feel my job is to convey the stories of the MMA fighters we enjoy to watch and share their stories with the world.
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