By Makhosi Tshipa
EFC 54 REVIEW: THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION FINALLY COMES OF AGE
That is the most accurate summation of the spectacle of a fight that headlined EFC Africa’s 54th marquee event.
Elvis “The Bomber” Moyo and Andrew “One Gear” Van Zyl put on what could possibly be the greatest heavyweight fight in EFC history in front of a sold out Sun City crowd this past Saturday. Many had predicted that this was going to be a very competitive fight but even they were forced to swallow their words as the two heavyweights fought their way not only into the annals of Mixed Martial Arts history, and burnt themselves into the hearts and minds of fans worldwide. This was not just a good fight, it was the best fight EVER in EFC heavyweight history. If we ever doubted it, now we know that EFC worldwide is a global brand, with world class fighters.
Gone are the days of lumbering, overweight heavyweights swinging away wildly at each other like Vikings on a battlefield. Gone are the days of heavyweights that tire after only one round of action, and spend the rest of the fight staring blankly at each other as if they are sizing each other up for their rematch. Gone are the days of one-dimensional heavyweights that are either strictly stand up fighters or wrestlers. On display on Saturday night was the good cardio, solid ground game, accurate and measured striking that the EFC’s heavyweight divisions now boasts of. Anything less will never be accepted, and any perpetrator of the old, slow, teletubby type of heavyweight MMA will be punished severely by the likes of Van Zyl and Moyo (of course to the great pleasure and glee of all EFC fans). There was a rockus section of the audience in attendance on Saturday that had punctuated the event with chants of “…we want blood!!” throughout the night. In this fight they were silenced. It was not a bloodbath, like the 2015 encounter between Boyd Allen and Leon Maynard, but there was definitely nefarious intentions behind every punch, kick and elbow that was thrown, and by the time there was blood from the fight ending injury on Moyo the bloodthirsty crowd had already had their fill of gore.
Van Zyl and Moyo have ushered in an era where you don’t just qualify to be an EFC heavyweight by merely being above 100kgs in weight, and having a fearsome reputation wherever you come from. Prospective EFC heavyweight fighters will now sit down and do some thorough soul searching and introspect, and ask themselves if they are truly ready to push themselves to the limits of human ability (and beyond) in order to survive in EFC’s heavyweight division. And it is about time.
By now fans will be aware of the result. Van Zyl won via ground and pound in the 4th round, becoming the EFC’s first ever three time Heavyweight champion. Moyo, on his part, although coming up short, proved that he is definitely a force to be reckoned with. For someone weighing in well above 100kgs he carried himself VERY fast. His incredible punch selection, rangy jab and great cage generalship gave Van Zyl fits for the duration of the fight, and never once did he seem even remotely bothered by fatigue. Instead, with every passing round, he went about the task of dismantling Van Zyl patiently and methodologically, wearing away at his body and keeping clear of Van Zyl’s dangerous clinch and takedowns.
As for Van Zyl, there are no words to describe the amount of heart that he displayed in this particular fight. He has always been hailed for his ‘granite chin’ but in this particular instance it was not his chin that won the day, but his heart, and determination. He was battered, bruised, and out maneuvered for 16 straight minutes by the powerful Moyo, but seemingly not once did he doubt that he was the better fighter in the cage. Indeed, as Moyo picked up his tempo, and started picking his shots carefully and landing harder, more telling shots, ‘One Gear’ became even more aggressive, and moved forward to meet Moyo’s shots with even more determination and drive. One would have expected him to shoot for takedowns and grind his way to a boring, one sided wrestling point’s decision, but One Gear had other plans. He worked hard in the clinches, scoring devastating knees and uppercuts, and even when he was in dominant positions on the ground he maintained a high work rate, which is what eventually granted him the KO victory, with a frightening cut on the crown of Moyo’s head which was opened up by a well-placed elbow from Van Zyl.
To top it all up, the entire fight was illuminated with the grand light of sincere sportsmanship. Both fighters touched gloves not just before the fight, but at the beginning of every round. Gone were the dramatic displays of fake animosity that have plagued the heavyweight division in the past. These were two civilized gentleman, just out to test each other’s medical aid and insurance policies, and provide some form of employment for the many desperate, under-utilized doctors and neuro surgeons out there. What selflessness, what kindness, what self-sacrifice. Bravo!
Best of luck to all the future heavyweight fighters in the EFC, especially any that may be slated to face either of these two beasts. Ladies and gentleman, the bar has just been raised…to dizzying heights.