Fighters all over the globe dream of being able to fight on the premium stage of mixed martial arts in their region. Dreams don’t always come true, though. For some, the hard work becomes too tiresome. A life dedicated to training, fighting and the constant day-to-day grind becomes too mundane. The dream of getting to that big stage just fades away.

For fighters like J.P. Kruger, the EFC Africa Hexagon is that premium stage. Being able to compete there in front of thousands of screaming fans is like living a dream every single day.

Kruger (R) (EFC Africa)

Kruger (R) (EFC Africa)

“EFC Africa is the biggest and best MMA stage Africa’s got to offer,” Kruger told The MMA Corner. “It’s such a huge blessing and experience to be fighting for this awesome promotion. [I’m] very blessed.”

Mixed martial arts is often referred to as “the ultimate proving ground” for martial artists. Going all the way back to when the UFC was first formed, the sport was centered around which discipline was the best in the combat arena.

“MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world,” Kruger explained. “If you wanna find out who’s the best of the best athletes in the fighting game—the ultimate fighter that has to specialize in every martial art—you’ll find it in the game of MMA, and it’s a great stage for me to spread the gospel of Jesus from.”

In his EFC Africa 32 bout on Aug. 7, Kruger is set to face Liam Cleland, who comes into the bout with a four-fight winning streak. Kruger, who is looking to bounce back from a first-round submission loss in his last appearance in the Hex, plans to hand Cleland his second professional loss.

“Liam is a very cool guy with a good rep for his ground game,” Kruger admitted. “[It’s] gonna be an exciting fight. I’m just looking forward to testing my skills against him. I’m gunning for that gold strap.”

Although Kruger’s goal is now centered on building towards earning his shot at middleweight gold, entering the Hex and setting an example for young up-and-coming fighters is also at the forefront of his mind. Fighting, for him, is all about dedication to a higher power.

“[I’m looking forward to] getting back in the Hex and trading leather,” he said. “Let’s play MMA. I just wanna tell the youth out there you don’t need to be an a-hole to be a great MMA athlete. Every punch, kick, submission and breath, always glorify Jesus.”

Kruger (Anton Geyser /EFC Africa)

Kruger (Anton Geyser /EFC Africa)

In preparation for his upcoming bout, Kruger has spent his time at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. He has been able to surround himself with some of the best fighters in the world, and now he is eager to showcase what he has learned in the weeks that he has spent abroad.

“I love looking at this beautiful game, MMA, from all angles and gain experience,” Kruger admitted. “This is an every day evolving game, and if you don’t evolve with it you’ll get left behind. I’m here to evolve as an athlete and getting my game to a more international standard—always gotta learn. I’m here not just to end the camp for my fight, but also to up my game in general. I’ve had the opportunity to train with some of the biggest names in MMA and just soaking up from them.”

With his first setback inside the EFC Africa cage now out of the way, Kruger looks to replicate the five-fight winning streak that led him into 2014. Taking the time to go away and train with some of the best fighters in the world was all part of being able to continue to live the dream. Since that first round at the hands of Gareth McLellan, the Hex has been calling Kruger and now, on Aug. 7, he gets the chance to answer the call.

J.P. would like to thank his sponsors: RSV, Scenic Routes, Breed Apart Pictures, Kia East Rand, Vandalous MMA, Furniture.Inc, Animal Ark, Saf-fa, Alias Sport, Energy Shisha and John’s Custom Tattoos. He would also like to thank his training camps: XKT Pro League, Rio Grappling Club Springs, RADD Wrestling, The Bronx Boxing Gym and Tiger Muay Thai Thailand, and also everyone in California that has helped him finish his camp. He would also like to thank his manager, James, as well as his wife, Tracey, for her love and support in his career. He would also like to add thanks to “always number one—praise Jesus.” Follow Kruger on Twitter: @krugerjpMMA

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.