CAPE TOWN – Adrian ‘Rayo’ Sanchez has a real zest for life.
Everything he does, he puts his heart into it, and then adds a little extra.
From fighting, to family, to coaches and culture.
The man will invest his entire being into an interview, and you can hear it in the clear pronunciation, too, as he explains things such as: Where “Rrrrayo” comes from.
“So Rayo, as in ‘Rrrayo’, is the name of the Spanish soccer team Rayo Vallecano in the area my dad comes from which is Vallecano (Madrid),” says Rayo.
It also means “Ray of Light”, or “Thunderbolt” elaborating on his other alias “Son of Thunder”.
“Rayo is also a name that gets thrown around a lot in that area. And it’s such a cool name,” says the man who proudly donned the Spanish national flag colours after his debut victory at EFC78 in Cape Town.
Rayo’s dad immigrated to South Africa at the age of about 20 before making a life in Goodwood, Cape Town.
Although being proudly South African, the EFC up-and-comer is still very much connected to his Spanish hermanos (brothers) and hermanas (sisters).
“Yeah, the flag I embraced after that victory (was) just a tip of the hat to my Spanish family, my brothers, cousins and aunty.”
Those of you well-acquainted with the glamorous Spanish La Liga might agree that Rayo Vallecano are currently far from the same conversations as your Barcelona and Real Madrid powerhouse football teams.
The team finished stone last at the end of the 2018-19 season… not much reason for the fans to shout “Ole”.
But soon, and very soon, the “Los Vallecanos” fans might have every reason to stomp their feet as one of their “hermanos” could take the name into the Mesosphere.
Sanchez (1-0) has quickly stolen the interest of many a fan and fight analyst of late. Not just through his abilities in the hexagon, but via his respectable demeanour, too.
He carries himself like a true champion and ambassador.
“Sanchez is confident and when he gets publicity, I feel he handles himself like a true professional. He helps many people with his positive energy,” says his coach Pro Fitness coach Angelo Addinall.
“If you’re having a bad day, just follow his social media pages, it will brighten up your day and that all comes from his belief and confidence.
“He will share all his experiences with you to show you that dreams do come true. He always remains grounded with the right guidance and team,” adds Angelo.
It may be hard to believe that he only has one pro fight to his name. But when you experience his belief system first-hand, then it will all make sense as to why he comes across as a seasoned successful professional MMA veteran.
“It’s a dream come true to fight pro, I’ve always been in sport from a young age.
“I started gymnastics at about five-years-old, and the goal was to go professional, things didn’t work out, I then changed my focus to rugby, but not coming through the correct systems, I never had the proper opportunity.
“Then I stumbled across fighting, and I thought ‘This is it. This is my chance to go pro’,” Rayo says.
“I gave it everything, with the help of my coaching team, uncle Neville (Addinall) and Angelo, and boom, my dream has come true.
“This is what I want to do, what I want to be known for and what I want to be known as, a professional fighter.”
If you look back at the train of thought, you can’t help but admire the crazy determination within this guy.
Moving from one sport to another in a very competitive SA sporting climate, with the aim of reaching professional status, and not stopping until you get there takes some doing.
Again, it is the belief that is so evident within Rayo, and his belief system is all intact as he takes on his new challenge this weekend at Carnival City when he comes up against the tough Serge Kasanda in a lightweight bout at EFC80.
The orthodox Serge (3-3), who fights out of Middelburg, has a proper jiu-jitsu and judo artillery, but Rayo, who enjoys the stand-up game, is more than ready for the challenge ahead.
“We like to work on all our fighter’s strengths, we (PFC) are known for producing some of the best stand-up fighters.
“But Rayo will be more than comfortable standing or grappling. Many people doubted his ability to shine on the pro scene, but he has had pro mentality from his first amateur fight.
“We saw a glimpse of what he is capable of in pro MMA at EFC78 and there is so much more to come. “Remember the name, PFC’s Adrian Rayo Sanchez,” adds Angelo.
* Follow @juliankiewietz on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for live updates and more
FIGHT CARD for Saturday
Main Card (Live at 8pm)
McLennan vs Lesar (Interim Middleweight Championship)
Fiorot vs Geugjes (The Fighter Finale)
Michael vs Seabi (Welterweight Grand Prix bout)
Delafiedl vs El (Lightweight bout)
Cronje vs Mongambi (Bantamweight bout)
Prelim Card (5pm)
Chipfumbu vs Dwama (Bantamweight bout)
Djikasa vs J Strydom (Heavyweight bout)
Sanchez vs Kasanda (Lightweight bout)
T Strydom vs Jones (Lightweight bout)
Mangala vs Richards (Lightweight bout)
Delayed streams on the official EFC Facebook page: Main card: 8pm, SuperSport 11, Sub-Saharan Africa, Live.
SABC 3 – South Africa – delayed live, 9pm.@juliankiewietz