When you envisage a heavyweight mixed martial artist, you don’t immediately think of a 100-plus kg warrior knocking opponents out with kicks to the temple.
One of the grand specialists who comes to mind is the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) Alistair Overeem.
The former K1 and Strikeforce champion is world-renowned for his flexibility and tactical use of those logs he calls his legs. It can be a very effective and lethal weapon to keep your opponent at bay as well as finishing a fight with minimal effort.
And this is what makes South Africa’s Juan Bezuidenhout so exciting to watch.
Just picture a man built like a tank with the flexibility of a Russian ballerina.
Juan only recently made his debut in the Extreme Fighting Championship at EFC68, but that fight and a couple of reels on YouTube of his amateur days gets me moving in my media seat.
He might not have the height of ‘The Reem’, but Juan ‘The Assassin’ is just as deadly.
Standing at 1.82 metres and 112kg, this man is as tough as they come. He does not shy away from the heat of battle and can take a punch as much as he can dish it out. And boy, does he dish it out.
In his debut he came up against a giant in the form of Durban’s Matunga Djikasa, who stands at 1.95.
With a reach of 208cm, Djikasa had the upper hand from the start and making use of his judo and boxing skills, he laid into his shorter opponent almost waiting for Bezuidenhout to tire or fall via a massive fist.
But the impressive part came as round one moved along, heading into round two, and it was clear who had the bigger gas tank as Djikasa tired and got caught with a few log-like kicks to the body and head area from Bezuidenhout.
There was a moment or two when it seemed as if Djikasa was surprised at the flexibility of the Silverback warrior.
Bezuidenhout quickly got his opponent on the ground, locking him in an armbar that would secure him his first win on the EFC books.
“It’s definitely the kickboxing that helps me become so flexible,” says Bezuidenhout.
“I started doing Karate when I was five years old before moving onto kickboxing in which I got my black belt.”
The man, who grew up in Pretoria, moved to Cape Town a few years ago. After rocking the Cape Fight League with a huge head kick to one of his opponents, competitors were hesitant about fighting Bezuidenhout.
“This was when coach Anthony Kettle and myself decided to make the step up to the EFC.”
Juan is a man of few words, unless in the company of his fiancée, nine-year- old son, or close friends.
Like many of us, he loves making the most of life and enjoys juicy ribs and steak on the braai. But of course, it would be unusual if the Parklands resident too didn’t have any ambition of one day owning the belt that Andrew van Zyl has donned for so long now.
“Life is shorter than we realise and so I want to make every second count. I too want to fight for the title one day.”
He certainly has started on a good note with his recent fight. And those high kicks and iron jaw stand him in good stead and will once again be on show when he comes up against Simon Harle at EFC69 in a three-round heavyweight clash.
The man they call ‘The Boom’ has just come off a loss in at EFC64 when the ref called the fight in round two due to punches at the hands of Thabani Mndebela.
A grizzled brawler fighting out of Linksfield, Johannesburg, Harle will be keen to get a ‘W’ behind his name as soon as possible, and Juan is hoping that Harle will be at his best at Carnival City, Johannesburg, tonight.
“I think he talks too much, I don’t like running my mouth off before the fight. I know I am ready. Let’s see if he can back it up (today). I just hope he brings his 'A 'game',” warns Bezuidenhout subtly.
Main Card (Live on SABC 3, 9pm)
Buys vs Rouch (bantamweight championship)
P. Botha vs Murrie (featherweight)
Openshaw vs Mane (middleweight)
Koekemoer vs Yamdjie (heavyweight)
Bezuidenhout vs Harle (heavyweight)
Prelim Card (Livestream on Facebook, 5.30pm)
Van der Merwe vs Kanyeba (catchweight)
Mailer vs Ntumba (catchweight)
Coxen vs HP van Staden (welterweight)
Els vs Mdoko (lightweight)
De Klerk vs Oosthuizen (catchweight)