Sometimes fighters who already excel in one discipline struggle to make the transition to MMA because they are used to success coming naturally and don’t want to subject themselves to the grinding, grueling process of becoming a well-rounded mixed martial artist.
Vuyisile Colossa is a Muay Thai world champion who has been in with some of the biggest names in the sport. His stand-up credentials are impeccable, but he has learned the hard way that, when it comes to the cage, man cannot survive with striking alone.
The South African’s 5-4 record might not be the most impressive, but every single loss has been handed to him by one of the best lightweights in Asia and not once has Colossa looked like he was outclassed or out of his depth.
In his third fight, he took on Eduard Folayang, who at the time was 8-1 and the best pound-for-pound fighter in the Philippines, and after getting outwrestled in the opening two rounds, Colossa picked apart the URCC champion in the third round. Many in attendance that night felt he had finished strongly enough to secure a draw, but all three judges scored it 29-28 for the Filipino.
Then, in his sixth fight, he took on Yui Chul Nam, whose 12-3-1 record marked him as the best lightweight in Korea. Again, Colossa went the distance, but lost on points. Two fights later he faced the same opponent in a rematch and this time it was so close that the South African was only on the wrong end of a split decision.
At ONE FC: Return of Warriors in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year, Colossa took on 3-0 Hawaiian state wrestling champion Lowen Tynanes. Stylistically it was the worst possible match-up for him, but he still put on a “fight of the night” performance and came close to stopping his unbeaten opponent with strikes before being submitted late in the third round.
The good news for Colossa is that he has the biggest MMA fight of his career booked for Sept. 13, as the co-main event at ONE FC: Champions and Warriors. The bad news is that he will once again be an underdog against vastly experienced fighter in the shape of former lightweight champion Kotetsu Boku.
It’s a make-or-break fight for Colossa, as he takes on the 20-8-2 Shooto veteran, but with risk comes reward and he is relishing the opportunity to potentially turn his entire career around in front of 15,000 fans in Jakarta.
“Since the fight with Tynanes, I finally now understand what MMA is. I learned a lot from the experience and it really pushed me to be a greater fighter. It will be an honor to fight Boku and I hope knocking him out will increase my chances of a title shot,” he said.
Boku has four times as many wins as Colossa and nine years more MMA experience. On paper, it is arguably a mismatch, but “The Cheetah” can take comfort from the knowledge that Zorobabel Moreira was able to do severe damage to the Japanese fighter’s left leg with low kicks in their ONE FC 155-pound title match.
Colossa could be forgiven for thinking “if a BJJ black belt can cause that sort of devastation to Boku with his striking, what might a Muay Thai champion be able to do?” And he has certainly studied footage of that fight.
“I watched the fight and both fighters did a good job. I was surprised with Zorobabel’s striking game and it was just unfortunate that he took a big over right from Boku. As for our fight, we’ll see how the training goes and will take it from there.”
That title bout between Boku and Moreira was arguably the 2012 Asian MMA Fight of the Year with the Japanese fighter showing real tenacity to survive the early onslaught and then devastating power to finish the fight with a brutal third-round flurry.
Boku only has one submission win to his name. So, for once, Colossa will be facing an opponent who feels more comfortable keeping the fight standing and he thinks that could make for some fireworks.
“It’s going to be a striking war and I think it will be fight of the night because neither of us is afraid to stand and bang,” he said.
Colossa has been based in Hong Kong for five years and with Asia’s biggest MMA promotion reportedly close to confirming a card there, he is hoping to get a chance to fight for ONE FC in his adopted homeland.
“It’s not an easy market because people here are still learning about MMA. I think Hong Kong needs a big show like ONE FC to come here, and when it does, I definitely want to be on it. You can’t leave ‘The Cheetah’ out on his playground.”
Before Colossa can think about fighting in Hong Kong, he has urgent business in Jakarta to attend to. A win over Boku would get him back on track for a prospective future ONE FC title shot. He says he is ready to tear up his striking roots in order to become a truly well rounded mixed martial artist.
“I am kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter by heart, but I am not taking as many of those fights lately because of the MMA training. The transition has begun.”