CAPE TOWN – I won’t be surprised if Andrew van Zyl calls it a day on his professional MMA career this coming Saturday at EFC76.
Aside from fighting for a title, what better way can you celebrate your swansong than at the Extreme Fighting Championship’s annual finale.
The final event of the year always proves to be a spectacular show with that extra bit of spice.
I have heard of fighters referring to what an honour it was fighting on that prestigious end-of-year card as it is seen in come circles as the culmination of the EFC promotion’s yearly success and celebration.
And the EFC legend and institution that is Andrew ‘One Gear’ van Zyl is surely one who can be celebrated for years to come when fans and analysts go through the annals of African, South African and global MMA.
“Yup, my retirement is on the cards, brother,” says Andrew, the former EFC Heavyweight champion.
Andrew (19-4) has been the organisation’s tough guy for a long time, and what is most impressive is the fact that the 35-year-old has balanced being a professional MMA fighter along with being a dedicated school teacher and rugby coach for the last 10 years.
“I will think about my retirement after this contest,” says the Parktown Boys’ High life orientation and history educator.
“I felt out I left too much out there in my last fight. If I go out, I will go out on my terms,” he says, referring to his disappointing title loss to Dalcha Lungiambula (9-1).
Andrew lost his belt to the now Light-heavyweight and Heavyweight champion.
It is understandable that he feels unsatisfied about his last fight as he just did not seem himself, lacking that relentless pressure he usually does impose on his opponent.
“Fighting has always been something that has got me up in the morning. My time has now become very precious, and my time has been divided up because of fighting and teaching. The truth is, I can’t compete and work any more – it has just become too difficult.
“I will still keep working toward goals in martial arts. They will, however, have a different focus.”
Potentially Andrew’s last fight in the EFC organisation will be against England’s Stuart Austin (12-5).
The man most EFC fans remember for his controversial loss to Dalcha could bring a strong judo game to the hexagon before initiating a ground attack.
Both men have pretty strong grappling games and should it go that route, it will just be a matter of who has the tank and who finds the button.
Andrew, however, has that iron jaw, and might keep the fight standing and deploy his heavy hands to soften his opponent up before choosing either a ground-and-pound or a flat-out KO, a tactic that has stood him in good stead over his illustrious career with 12 TKO/KOs at hand.
Andrew may call it a day this weekend, or maybe he will not rest until he settles that 2-1 score in favour of Ruan Potts?
Either way, whether he calls it or not come Saturday, it goes without saying that a big salute or respect is in order for a man who has offered so much to not only the MMA world, but also to so many students walking through the doors of Parktown Boys’ High School in Johannesburg.
The fight will take place on the main card of EFC76.
* EFC 76 Time Square is presented by Betxchange.com, and takes place on Saturday 8 December live from Time Square, Menlyn Maine, Pretoria.
Tickets are on sale at computicket.com, and the 5 main card bouts will be broadcast live on Kwesé Free Sports 1 (Kenya & Rwanda), Kwese TV (Sub-Saharan Africa), DAZN (USA & Italy), TV 2 – Sports 1 (Norway), FIGHT SPORTS (where available) & EFCworldwide.tv (Where available) starting at 20:30 (CAT) and delayed live on SABC 3.
* This copy was co-sponsored by Capital Hotels and Apartments.@juliankiewietz