Cape Town - Former EFC heavyweight king Ruan Potts says he is up for the challenge of fighting Stuart Austin fresh off the Englishman’s sensational first-round demolition of Andrew van Zyl.
Austin (13-5) on Saturday became the first and only man to knockout Van Zyl (19-5), who subsequently announced his retirement.
It was a bad night for South African MMA legends, as fellow two-time champion Potts (11-7) later got TKO’d by American Jared Vanderaa (8-3) in their interim title bout at EFC 76 in Pretoria.
London-based Austin, who snapped a two-fight skid at Time Square, made it clear he wants Potts next.
“I want to fight Ruan, that’s why I called him out,” Austin told the media after the EFC’s final card of 2018.
“I think we’ve had a little bit of back and forth before. I’m not going to get into it now, sorry guys, let’s be a bit more respectful. I think we will be an exciting fight. We will both come and try hurt each other and that will be fun. You’re going to want to watch it. Let’s be honest, you will switch on. We will go out there, we will rumble. He’s a tough guy, I’m a tough guy. No one’s afraid of getting hit in the face and then someone will fall over. Then I think after that I would like to fight Vanderaa.
“At the moment I’m only on a one-fight win streak. Again, I’ve kind of reassessed what I want to do in this sport and I would like to fight everyone over here, and beat everyone here one at a time. I think he’s a good fight for me now. I think it moves me forward. It’s motivating, it’s always fun to fight someone you have a bit of animosity with, it adds a bit of fun to it. I know he probably won’t enjoy it as much as I will, but it’s good for me.
“But you know all stuff aside, I wouldn’t call out someone I don’t respect as a fighter. I’m not looking for easy fights, I’m looking for tough fights. Ruan is a tough guy. We saw he’s coming to fight, he’s coming to bring it and I think that’s an exciting fight for everyone to watch. Then after that we can think about Jared.”
“We’re fighters. At the end of the day it’s up to the EFC. It’s up to Cairo (EFC president, Howarth), it’s up to Graeme (EFC matchmaker, Cartmell), but hey, I’m eager for any fight,” said the 40-year-old.
“If he wants to call me out, let’s go for it. I’m eager, but the main thing is let’s do it sooner rather than later. Yeah, if there’s an availability in March, I’m up for that fight.”
Meanwhile, Potts paid tribute to 36-year-old Van Zyl, who he beat twice and lost once to over the course of their storied careers.
“It’s an upsetting thing for any athlete to eventually call it day, you know, because you’ve got that fight in you forever,” said the ex-UFC fighter.
“It doesn’t matter the day you retire, you always want to fight. But in all honesty we’ve all got our goals, we’ve all got our things.
“You know, we’ve had wars … three wars. We were the first ones to ever go three times in a row, and it was good fights. One, five rounds, all out. And you know I’m going to be missing him; it’s that love-hate relationship. And ja, I wish him well for his future endeavours.
“Who knows you know, maybe he
takes a few years off and maybe he comes back, maybe not. But I can see
him probably coming back in a few years’ time. He’s still young, remember I’m
the old man now. He’s still got a couple of years to catch up. But I wish well
for his future endeavours, and he’s a legend, really.”