Team Moyo – “Bring it on Andrew van Zyl, we are ready for whatever you bring!”
By Makhosi Tshipa
In the lead up to the upcoming EFC 54 event which is happening at Sun City resort in just under two weeks’ time, Makhosi Tshipa of SouthAfricanMMA.com sat down with Gert Strydom and Wiekus Swart, the head coaches of Elvis ‘the Bomber’ Moyo, and discussed his preparations and training camp in the run up to his first ever MMA title fight.
‘The Bomber’ is set to face seasoned veteran Andrew Van Zyl for the coveted EFC heavyweight title. This will be the second time that the pair have met inside the octagon, with their last meeting having been at EFC 31, where Van Zyl came out victorious with via first round submission.
SAMMA: We are two weeks out from the big fight, how has training been going and do you think Elvis is ready/
Gert: To tell you the truth Elvis was BORN READY! Training has been superb, we have had no hiccups in training, no injuries, the only thing that has changed was the opponent but our game plan remains the same, we have only got one game plan and that is to go and win, and Elvis is ready.
SAMMA: What kind of fight are you expecting from Van Zyl and how are you preparing for it?
Gert: Look, they changed the opponent from Van Heerden to Van Zyl a week and a half ago, we are just going to approach the fight in the same way.
I know Van Zyl is a tough boy he is going to come out smoking, he also knows that he will not stand up with Elvis their game plan is to get Elvis on the ground. We have been working over the last two years on Elvis’ ground game since he fought Andrew the first time- he is a completely different fighter now. He hits much harder, is faster and Elvis has got a ground game now! So we are confident, wherever the fight may go, standing or to the ground we will be comfortable.
SAMMA: what adjustment, if any, have you made in your training camp since they changed the opponent from Danie to Andrew?
Gert: Nothing. Nothing has changed, the only thing that will change is the names on the contract, from Van Heerden to Van Zyl (laughs), that’s the only change that we made, otherwise we go through our paces in the gym, we train hard and whoever they put in front of us we will fight him, we will blow him away and move on to the next one.
SAMMA: The last time they fought was at EFC 31, where Van Zyl won via armbar in the first round. What has changed this time, what have they added to his arsenal to deal with an aggressive wrestler like Van Zyl?
Look, Elvis now has a ground game, if Andrew wants to go to the ground, well last time he got lucky and he caught Elvis in an armbar Elvis had no ground game, he had no takedown defense, we’ve worked on all that stuff, he’s good on the ground now and yeah, Andrew van Zyl must bring it on, we are ready for whatever he brings!
SAMMA: Elvis is giving up 4cm of height and 3cm of reach in this fight. Will that be of any consequence? How do they plan on dealing with that?
Gert: Size doesn’t really matter, it is not going to make the difference. What is going to make the difference is the size of the heart and Elvis has the heart of a lion. He will not give up and he will fight right to the end. I am also sure Andrew (Van Zyl) as well, I know him as a tough kid, he will come out smoking and do his best until he gets hit by ‘the bomber’. Once the bomber lands on him, Andrew Van Zyl’s mind and attitude will change.
We are not going to Sun City to play games, we are going to fetch a title, and I speak with confidence because I am confident, we’ve trained hard, everything went according to plan, nothing can go wrong, so Andrew van Zyl, please, bring the fight on, let’s give the crowd what they want, let’s give the spectators what they want to see. They will come all the way to Sun City to come see a fight and that’s what we are going to bring on the night, we are going to give them a fight!!
I predict a win. We are going to win. It might be a knockout or it might be with a surprise on the ground, it all depends on how much Andrew can take hey. If he can stand with Elvis, which I think he is going to try, that’s going to be a big mistake hey because if ‘the bomber’ lands on him it’s going to be one way traffic, we know it, and Andrew (Van Zyl) knows it. I respect him, he is a former champion… as a human being I respect him, but come fight night there is no more respect hey, everybody is in there to win and to look after their families with a couple of bucks and I wish them luck but we are going to Sun City to win.
South African MMA also got to talk to Mr Wiekus Swart, Elvis Moyo’s head Brazilian Jui Jitsu and wrestling coach.
Readers will be interested to know that Mr Swart had the best seat in the house when Moyo and Van Zyl fought for the first time, at EFC 31, having been the third man when the cage was locked shut, in his capacity as an EFC Referee. We were interested to get his insight into the coming clash.
SAMMA: Last time Elvis fought Van Zyl he lost via 1st round submission. What have they done to change the tide this time around.
Wiekus: Funny enough the first time they fought I was actually the referee (smiles). That was before Elvis had any ground game he had come in as a pure boxer. That was (about) two years ago, and I can tell you now that Elvis is a totally different guy. He has worked incredibly hard on his ground, he trains diligently and he is very keen for knowledge.
I am not saying that he is at Andrew’s level yet, obviously Andrew has been (BJJ) for a lot longer but if you were to compare the Elvis that fought Andrew then to the one that is fighting now it’s a totally different person, totally different.
SAMMA: Based solely on Elvis’ performance at the gym, what level does he think he is now, on the standard BJJ grading system?
He is a good blue belt. I actually graded him to blue belt, he actually trains in the gee and everything. Obviously now for the fight he hasn’t been training in the gee because we are specializing in the no gee section because he is getting ready for a fight but once the fight is over he will be back in the gee again because he is doing proper BJJ as a blue belt.
SAMMA: Is he ready already or is there still more work to be done in the remaining two (2) weeks?
Gert: We would have liked to have fought Andrew in December, but the game plan hasn’t changed, we are working the same game plan as we would have used for Andrew but it’s just coming a bit sooner but Elvis is in the best shape he has ever been in, he is grappling better than he has ever done before, so, in terms of that yes, he is ready.
SAMMA: Do you think Elvis’ cardio will be good enough for a grueling 5 round grind against a seasoned veteran like Van Zyl?
That’s one thing about Elvis that I have noticed, he just doesn’t seem to get tired. He is one of the fittest guys for his size that I have ever met. You know normally the big guys, if you look at their history, they tire after two minutes never mind two rounds. Elvis is an anomaly like that, he just doesn’t get tired and in all the fights I have seen him fight as well he hasn’t seemed remotely tired. I have no worries about him in that aspect. In fact I would say that that is one of his major strengths .i think that Andrew will get tired way before Elvis does.
SAMMA: So we are not getting a Kimbo Slice Dada 5000 type of heavyweight fight then?
Wiekus: No, it is going to be two fit individuals going at it, I think it’s going to be the best heavyweight fight the EFC has ever had.
I think Elvis is going to knock him out, I don’t think it will be the first round, I think the first round they are going to be feeling each other out, I think Andrew is going to try and rush him but Elvis has been working on his clinch defense so it is not going to be that easy. Not much is going to happen in the first round in terms of damage. I think second or third round Andrew is going to start getting tired make a mistake, Elvis is hitting harder than I have ever seen him hitting before, I think he is going to catch him and it’s going to be lights out.
Unfortunately ‘the bomber’ himself was not available to give his take on the fight but it seems certain from the almost tangible air of confidence that is exuding from his corner that they are confident that he will become the first non-South African born EFC worldwide heavyweight champion. Southafricanmma.com will continue to keep you updated with in depth analysis of the event and exclusive interviews with all the fighters and their teams in the lead up to this event, which is surely not to be missed.