CAPE TOWN – Some athletes use the media and the public opinion to gauge whether they’re worthy or not.
And then there are some who just get down and do the business to answer their own intrinsic questions.
Warren Allison is cut from the latter cloth.
“Fighting a former champion in his home town was a big fight for me,” he says of his last fight with Extreme Fighting Championship star and former light heavyweight king Gideon Drotschie.
“It was always going to be a real test and finishing him in the first round built my confidence and justified to me that I’m in the right place,” added Allison.
If you were sitting next to me at EFC63 Cape Town, you’d understand and appreciate what Allison is referring to.
For that night, it felt as if the entire Grand Arena had booked a ticket just to watch Drotschie as his name jumped off the walls and ceiling from the moment he walked out of his change room up until the moment the ref called a stop to the fight. Much respect Gideon, Cape Town has major love for you.
Getting back to one Warren ‘Grizzly Bear’ Allison… When you see the man in person, you’ll quickly notice his calm and relaxed demeanour.
A trait that in my experience is often associated with someone who is content in the moment and focused on the now.
“It’s never about chasing the belt, yes I do want my shot at the Middleweight belt, and this fight is the perfect way to prove that I am in line, but to me, it’s about self-improvement.”
And right now, he is focused on improving himself by overcoming his next opponent who comes in the form of the undefeated Dutch middleweight, Renier de Ridder at EFC 67 in Carnival City on Saturday night.
For those who appreciate Mixed Martial Arts, you will know EFC could not have opened up the 2018 season on a better note.
Pitting two submission masters against one another always sets up an exhibition of entertainment and skill in the Hexagon.
You see, both these men boast a high level of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, having finished the majority of their fights via submission.
De Ridder, who fights out of Combat Brothers in Breda has been proclaimed by some as the next big thing in the middleweight division and some have compared him to EFC double-division champion Dricus du Plessis.
He too boasts an Abu Dhabi world Brazilian Jiu Jitsu championship medal.
And with De Ridder tipping the height scale by 11cm over the 1.82m Allison, one would expect the Grizzly Bear to take the fight to the mat.
“Whatever opportunity presents itself I’m going to take, whether its knockout, TKO or submission, the goal is to always finish the fight and never let it go the distance. If the fight goes to the mat, I’m comfortable there,” says Allison though.
“It’s tough to say how Renier will approach the fight, of course his record speaks for itself. Things change in the hexagon all the time.
“So that is why I am just focused on myself and looking at key things to work on, because there are so many different dynamics.”
Allison added that he has utilized the services of some tall training and sparring partners to acclimatise to the height and reach of the giant Dutchman.
He too was recently awarded his purple belt by coach and fellow EFC colleague Deon Bruning, which can be seen on Instagram and Twitter.
It begged the question how the coach-student relationship came about considering the distance between the Bloemfontein based Allison and the Cape-based Bruning.
“We try and get him to Bloemfontein or I try and get to Cape Town. When I don’t see him I am always working on things that he teaches me when he is not around.
“I met Deon through a friend of mine, Deon came back home from the UK and his mother lives in Bloemfontein and he came to visit her.
“So that’s when I go to meet him and started training with him. I really enjoy working with him and I respect his philosophy when it comes to fighting and just the way he approaches everything,” Allison said of his coach.
For those who know Bruning, you will quickly make the connection.
Both these fighters are something of a different breed, whether you compare their outlook or fighting styles in comparison to other fighters.
Their quiet persona speaks volumes of their nature and appreciation for mixed martial arts.
While Allison may be open-minded, down to earth and holistic about the fight, De Ridder, he sees the fight only going one way: “I see the fight going like my previous eight fights. I’m going to hit Allison with some good sh*t.
“He is going to have a hard time hitting me. Then when I decide to, I’m going to take him down and finish the fight.
“I am ready to take over the EFC middleweight division,” he concluded.
Will De Ridder live up to his predictions, or will he find a calm but ruthless Bear from Bloemfontein quietly waiting in the corner of the Hexagon tomorrow night?
Kena v Kasanda (Lightweight); Cronje v Kabeya (Featherweight); K Hlongwa v Roussow (Light heavyweight); Khusu v de Beer (Catchweight); Coxen v Kalunda (Welterweight); Goncalves v Kanyinda(Featherweight); Harle v Djikasa (Heavyweight)
Main card (to be aired lived on SABC3 on Saturday, starting at 9.30pm)
Masunyane v Hugnett (Flyweight); Roodman v Hlongwa (Middleweight); Kabesa v Silva (Lightweight); De Ridder v Allison (Middleweight); Elisasov v Penco (Women’s strawweight championship)