I'm going to put Dave away - Van Staden

Martin van Staden vs Gavin Hughes during EFC68 at Grand West, Cape Town. EFC Worldwide

South Africa's Martin van Staden and American Dave Mazany share the same dream and they're willing to take each other's heads off to achieve it.

Van Staden (26-10-0) will defend his EFC lightweight belt for the first time against the former champion at the GrandWest Arena in Cape Town on Saturday night.

While reigning supreme in Africa's premier mixed martial arts promotion is the immediate priority for either veteran, their athletic ambitions extend beyond the Hexagon.

Van Staden, 35, and Mazany, 34, are both chasing a call-up to the UFC - the sport's ultimate proving ground.

"The dream was always to go to the UFC," Van Staden told KweséESPN.

"Since the first time I ever watched the UFC, that's where I was destined to go and that's where I always believed I was gonna go, but it's just taken some time.

"I've made some bad decisions with my career by taking on fights and fighting in the wrong weight division my whole career up until the last two years.

"When I started this journey I was only 80kg, and then I bulked up a bit and fought bigger guys. I've learnt lessons and I finally feel now I've found my stride of where I need to be.

"After this fight, after I beat Dave, I think the UFC is going to come knocking on my door.

"They need a guy like me that can bury guys and that's what I love to do. I love to put on a show... I'm excited."

The heavy-handed striker was emboldened on his quest when ex-Fight Fit Militia teammate Don Madge was handed a contract by Dana White in February, fresh off dethroning Mazany of EFC gold.

His compatriot's UFC debut has since been delayed by injury.

"It was a huge motivating factor for us," said Van Staden, who took over the EFC strap from Madge by knocking out Englishman Gavin Hughes in March.

"Madge's journey wasn't the way it was supposed to be, it's pretty sad. But you know Don will go there and make a name.

"I've got what it takes to go there and beat the best guys in the world, I truly believe that. And I'm going to show it on Saturday.

"People underestimate Dave. Dave's a good fighter, he's only lost to high-level guys. He comes from a good gym and he's a well-rounded fighter. So I'm going to put him away and carry on with my journey to the UFC."

Alaska-born Mazany (16-6-0) is also determined to compete in MMA's equivalent of the Majors, as his younger sister Gina has done on three occasions at bantamweight.

She most recently lost by unanimous decision to Lina Lansberg in May, having previously rebounded from a tough defeat to former title challenger Sara McMann with a victory over Yanan Wu.

The siblings train in Las Vegas at Xtreme Couture, the gym founded by MMA icon Randy Couture and home to UFC stars such as Kevin Lee, Uriah Hall, Brad Tavares and Claudia Gadelha.

"I only want to move up from here on out in my career," said Dave, who bounced back from his submission loss to Madge by dispatching Themba Gorino and ageing South African MMA pioneer Chris Bright.

"I need the strap to move forward and potentially fight for a real payday for once in my life," he said.