In Greek mythology, the first of Hercules’ 12 trials saw him go toe-to-toe with a gigantic lion, known as the Nemean Lion. The battle was fierce, and the result saw the gigantic and powerful lion defeated by the hero, Hercules, with his bare hands. That battle was the start of the myth and the legend that so many of us know today.

On May 1, at EFC Africa 29, thousands of years later, the world watched as another battle ensued. In the very first round, true to his highlight-reel form, “Herculeez” tamed “The Lion.” Just like ancient folklore would lead you to believe, the hero was triumphant. Inside the Hexagon on Aug. 7, at EFC Africa 32, a new battle begins.

“The Lion”—in this case, Dino Bagattin—was the first trial for this modern day “Herculeez,” also known as Henry Fadipe. Next, Adam Speechly will feel the wrath of a brand new champion who holds his title with an immense amount of pride. Fadipe is a modern-day warrior who certainly lives up to his mythological hero moniker. And like the hero, he has a significant trial in front of him. He must defend the EFC Africa welterweight title, something no other man has been able to accomplish.

“It felt amazing,” Fadipe exclaimed to The MMA Corner after winning his title. “It will feel even better to be the first to defend it. I am still nowhere in my career. This is just my beginning. Expect me not to change how I fight just because I’m champion now. I don’t fight safe—[I will] showcase skills I haven’t gotten to use before. I don’t believe in decisions. #SuddenDeath.”

Fadipe has come a long way in his career since he found the sport of mixed martial arts over five years ago. It has been a steep learning curve for the 16-fight veteran, and if it wasn’t for martial artists of the past, Fadipe probably wouldn’t be holding the premier welterweight title in Africa.

“I’ve always been into martial arts since the days of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies,” Fadipe explained. “I got into MMA when I was introduced by a college friend five years ago.”

After three years of competing throughout Europe, mostly in his native Ireland, Fadipe compiled a record of 5-7. It wasn’t until he began his run with EFC Africa in 2013, fighting to a draw against Tumelo Maphutha that Fadipe truly found his stride. With an unbeaten record in the Hexagon, Fadipe plans to be the man to make history in the welterweight division. His record may tell one story, but his attitude tells an entirely different one.

“Unfortunately, my record isn’t the greatest, and that was due to bad timing,” Fadipe admitted. “I was thrown into the deep end at a very early stage. I wish I could fight all those guys now, because I know I would walk through them with ease now. But, unfortunately, it can’t be undone.”

Although Fadipe fights in Africa, he is based out of Ireland. With each fight comes a lengthy travel itinerary, and although it’s something the newly crowned welterweight champion must face each time he looks to defend his belt, it’s certainly something he still struggles to come to terms with.

“It’s not so nice, actually,” Fadipe confessed. “My diehard fans are in Africa and I’m all the way over here. Fourteen-hour flights squashed into a tiny seat before I have to fight is not the greatest feeling. But as soon as I touch down, it’s amazing and all systems go.

The May 1 title victory for Fadipe couldn’t have gone any better. Greek mythology had the result of that fight forged long before the two fighters entered the Hex. Although no man has yet been able to defend the EFC Africa welterweight title, “Herculeez” is, as history suggests, no normal man.

Living up to his mythological namesake in the modern-day combat arena isn’t an easy thing to do, however. If there is anybody who can get the job done, it’s Fadipe. In order to become the greatest welterweight champion in EFC Africa history, this “Herculeez” doesn’t need to pass 12 trials. All he has to pass is one. That one title defense puts him a class above every other man who has held that title before him. And if there is someone that can rewrite history, surely he would bear the name “Herculeez.”

Henry would like to thank Chivalry, Badboy, Liquid Blast, Neats Gym and MMA, ProGum and Panache Marketing. He would also like to thank his trainer, Chris Byrne, and his head coach, Tony Carrick, and also all the guys from the Ryoshin fight team for helping him get ready. Follow Fadipe on Twitter: @herculeezmma

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.