Now, I’m a dif­fer­ent man all to­gether – Moyo

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - LIAM MOSES

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.

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