Now, I’m a different man all together – Moyo
ELVIS MOYO stepped into a mixed martial arts arena for the first time two years ago and immediately put in a performance worth noticing.
The stocky, powerful boxer had no experience in kickboxing, wrestling or jiujitsu, but still managed to earn a decision victory over former EFC title challenger and local MMA veteran Sors Grobbelaar.
It was a perfect start for Moyo, a man simply looking to use his talents to earn a living, but tougher times lay ahead. He went on to suffer first-round defeats to Brendon Groenewald and Andrew van Zyl – who have both since held the EFC heavyweight title – in losses that seemed to reveal the chinks in his armour.
Next Saturday, Moyo faces Van Zyl for a second time, with the EFC heavyweight title up for grabs. While most fighters crave the extra motivation provided by an opportunity to rectify a loss, Moyo views things differently.
“It’s not a rematch to me, it’s a way forward. When I fought Andrew van Zyl the first time, you must remember that I was just stepping into MMA at the time. I was a little bit disrespectful and I took the sport lightly. Now, I’m a different man all together,” he said.
“What motivates me is that this is my livelihood. To some people, fighting is about going around showing off that they are fit and strong and a fighter, but to me this is how I make a living.
“This is where I have to make it and without doubt I will make it. Andrew is not going to stand in my way or stop me from achieving my dream.”
Moyo has won five of his last six fights since his defeat to Van Zyl, with four of those victories coming by either by knockout or stoppage.
He earned his title shot next weekend by stopping Ricky Misholas just two minutes into the second round of their bout at EFC 50 in June.
The 33- year- old Moyo was subsequently matched up with fellow former boxer and EFC heavyweight champion Danie van Heerden.
But the fight was scrapped last month when Van Heerden was stripped of his title and suspended for directing a racist social media post at Moyo as part of an ongoing verbal war.
The Zimbabwean was left with just four weeks to prepare for an opponent with a completely different set of skills. An opponent who excels in the area where Moyo is believed to be weakest. An opponent who he has faced and lost to previously.
Whether the rematch plays out on the ground, in the clinch, or on their feet, Moyo is certain their bout will end differently.
“My grappling has improved a lot in terms of defending and attacking, but that’s not the point of my training. How the ground aspect actually affected me when I fought Andrew is not how people see it,” he said.
“I didn’t have the ground skills back then so I was worried about what Andrew was going to do. Now I have my blue belt in jiu-jitsu and I have been grappling a lot, putting in many hours.
“Now, I’m not worried about what he is going to do because if he takes me to the ground, that has become my territory as well. Now, he isn’t getting anything for free. If it gets to the ground he is going to have to fight really hard, and if he isn’t practising his stand- up then that’s where he is going to lose the fight.
“The confidence which comes with learning the grappling is very important because I’m so much more composed now. The first time we fought, I was punching him but I was always wary of him grabbing me,” Moyo added.
“The first time he grabbed me I got worried of what he was going to do next. Now, I have plenty of knowledge about what he is going to do. Most of what he is going to do I am already expecting and I know how to defend it.”
If he can keep Van Zyl on his feet, Moyo should have as clear an advantage as his opponent would have on the ground. If he can pull off a victory, Moyo will move to the next stage of what has been an intriguing journey from boxer to MMA fighter.
The fight takes place at EFC 54 at Sun City and also features a flyweight title bout between Baldwin Mdlalose and JP Buys and a women’s flyweight title bout between Shana Power and Amanda Lino.
ELVIS MOYO: Faces Andrew van Zyl at EFC 54 for the heavyweight title.