South Africa

Austin changes it up for Van Zyl scrap

2018-12-03 15:07
Stuart Austin (Supplied)
Stuart Austin (Supplied)

Cape Town - Stuart Austin has made some big changes ahead of facing former two-time EFC heavyweight champion Andrew van Zyl at Time Square in Pretoria on Saturday.

Austin (12-5) did some introspection after suffering consecutive losses to EFC champ-champ Dalcha Lungiambula (9-1) and UFC newcomer Johnny Walker (15-3), having won four of his previous five trips to the cage.

The Englishman nearly finished Lungiambula in November 2017, but ‘Champion’ rallied to score a second-round TKO and claim the EFC light heavyweight belt.

Austin then got knocked out at Ultimate Challenge MMA 54 in February by Walker, who subsequently starched Khalil Rountree (7-3) in a sensational UFC debut in Buenos Aires last month.

Austin has since altered his mindset.

“I have re-evaluated my reason to [fight] and I have approached this camp with the passion of someone fighting for fun rather than as a job or career,” Austin explains to mmaengage.com.

With a renewed enthusiasm, Austin, who twice fought under the Bellator MMA banner in 2014, says his preparations have been on point at Team Titan in London.

“Training has been really good for this camp. I’ve made some big changes to my game and worked the hardest that I have in years.

“Team Titan has one of the best rosters in the UK top to bottom. We have a huge fight team, which is constantly being bolstered by visiting fighters both domestic and international.”

The athletic 30-year-old is well aware of what he’s up against in tackling South African MMA legend Van Zyl (19-4).

Van Zyl, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with heavy hands, has thrice defended the EFC heavyweight crown across two reigns and never been TKO’d or KO’d in 23 fights.

Austin, who has a background in judo, has ample respect for the durable 36-year-old, and sees similarities in their skill-sets.

“Andrew doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses. He is a veteran jiu-jitsu black belt, with KO power and solid wrestling,” says Austin.

“I think our skill-sets are similar. We both want to throw our hands standing up, shoot a takedown and then beat the other guy up. Whoever does this well will win.”

He adds: “I think I can [finish] him with either of my hands, but he can do the same to me.”

‘He-Man’ says he relishes the challenge of facing someone of Van Zyl’s pedigree and experience.

“I probably am the underdog. Andrew has more experience and a better record than me. This makes him a more interesting and exciting opponent.”

On the same night at EFC 76, Ruan Potts (11-6) will battle American Jared Vanderaa (7-3) for the interim heavyweight belt.

Austin insists he is not thinking about where a win over Van Zyl would put him in the division, which is currently ruled by Lungiambula.

“I don’t care about the title right now. I have to get through Africa’s most consistent and highest level heavyweight first,” he says.

“If I win Dalcha will vacate his belt rather than fight me anyway. I already beat his ass and the ref stole my victory. I do not believe he would ever dare to fight me again.”

Lungiambula added the EFC heavyweight strap to his collection by defeating Van Zyl by a majority decision in June.

He is now angling for a superfight with EFC welterweight and middleweight king Dricus du Plessis (12-2) in the new year.

Read more on:    stuart austin  |  efc

 

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