HER STRONGEST POINT MUST BE HER GOOD LOOKS

Get to know Penco, Wójcik, Potts & Vanderaa even closer ahead of Saturday night’s fights

Pretoria, South Africa – We are just a few days out from the final event of 2018 and tensions are mounting while athletes end-off their final preparations for the biggest fights of their careers’. The four headlining championship fighters, Chiara Penco, Karolina Wójcik, Ruan Potts and Jared Vanderaa answered some quick-fire questions from EFC staff writers. Here is some insight from the four EFC stars on their lifestyles, self-defence, exercise and their upcoming fights.

 

Chiara Penco – 4-0 – EFC Women’s Strawweight Champion – Italy

 

Tell us about your childhood and where you are from.
I was born in Livorno, in a normal family. I was a timid girl who always liked to do different things from the rest of kids my age. My life became much more complicated when my parent’s divorce came into play, it made everything tougher to deal with. This is what led me to start practicing MMA, rebelling against everybody, and suddenly my shyness and insecurity faded away.

Are you a full-time fighter?
I have a side job here and there, just to round off the money I need to survive, but training is my main priority right now.

Which MMA discipline would you recommend women take up for self-defence and why?
I would advise all women to take part in MMA, as it is the most complete sort of training and really prepares you for everything. If, however they do not yet feel ready, BJJ is a great start. It is a very realistic martial art and contributes to getting in great shape… You really sweat a lot in the Gi!

What do you do outside of MMA?
I don’t really do much outside of MMA. That is my life at the moment, but I do love to travel.

Women’s weight cut tricks?
There are no shortcuts for weight cutting, it is all about will power, that is what drives you forwards… Especially for foodies like me 😉

Finish a fight with a broken nose or win via decision unscathed?
Until now I have always won keeping my nose nice and intact… I would love to keep it that way for as long as possible.

What is your opponents strongest point & where are you better than your opponent?
She is good in takedowns, but she has never faced me yet… so we will see. My head is harder than marble and I NEVER GIVE UP, that is definitely my defining skill.

Karolina Wójcik – 3-1 – EFC Women’s Strawweight Contender– Poland

 

How did you get into MMA?
I moved to England 3 years ago and asked a friend we’re a local boxing gym was he was training at REPS MMA at the time and he said come here and try this instead so I did.

Are you a full-time fighter?
I want to be full-time but I still have bills to pay so I need to work between fights.

Which MMA discipline would you recommend women take up for self-defence?
I would recommend all disciplines because all are good for self-defence and confidence.

Why did you move from Poland to England?
Just to start a new life with new opportunities.

What do you enjoy most about Preston?
I enjoy my gym REPS MMA, this gym changed my life and changed me.

Women’s weight cut tricks?
I don’t cut much weight. Just eat healthy and stay close to the weight I fight, so I’m always ready.

MMA for weight loss, which discipline would you recommend?
Again, I would recommend all disciplines. They all help with weight loss and most importantly, eat healthily.

What is your opponent’s strongest point?
Her strongest points must be her good looks.

Where are you better than your opponent?
Everywhere.

Ruan Potts– 11-6 – Former EFC champion and former UFC heavyweight– South Africa

 

Why do they call you Fangzz?
I got my nickname way back when I started fighting and I used to take my opponents back and sink my hooks in and finish off with a rear naked choke. Similar to a snake and his prey.

Are you a full-time fighter?
No, unfortunately in South Africa it is financially necessary to supplement your income with a full-time job, especially when you have a family to support.

What do you do outside of fighting and work?
Spend quality time with family and friends.

You are in the biggest division in MMA, what is the hardest part about competing at heavyweight?
In the heavyweight division, one punch can change a fight and solidify the outcome.

What three exercises would you suggest for someone to build power and strength for MMA?
Squats, deadlifts and H.I.I.T.

What martial art would you suggest to parents for their kids and why?  
My personal preference is BJJ.  It teaches the kids self-discipline, prevents bullying and builds the child’s self-confidence, fitness, skill, strength.

What is your opponents strongest point?
Jared looks like an all-round Mixed Martial Artist, which will make for an interesting fight, as our styles seem very similar.

Where are you better than your opponent?
Being a title fight, and fighting in Pretoria at such a high altitude for 5 rounds, I think fitness is going to play a key factor in this fight. I train at high altitude and he trains at low altitude.

Jared Vanderaa – 7-3 – EFC Heavyweight Contender – USA

 

Why do they call you the Mountain?
This came from high school but it really took-off after my manager and I did a branding exercise. Game of Thrones has helped with its popularity as well.

Are you a full-time fighter?
Yes I am. I train in the mornings and teach at nights. I have picked up a bouncing job two nights a week for extra cash flow but majority of my time is training or teaching. I am all in on this.

What do you do outside of fighting and work?
Listen to music, I love how it takes me to different places. Playing video games and watching anime, where I can get teleported into a new realm. I love to write; just being able to create something out of nothing is such a joyous feeling.

You are in the biggest division in MMA, what is the hardest part about competing at heavyweight?
I believe the hardest part about being a heavyweight, is finding training partners. They aren’t as easy to come by like smaller weights are, so it’s often difficult to re-create movement and strength when sparing. We’ve brought in a few bigger bodies and very technical guys to help training for this one.

What three exercises would you suggest for someone to build power and strength for MMA?
Squats as this focuses on your legs/core and almost all your power starts with this. Next two would be Russian Twists and sit ups; also, help build a strong core. If you have a strong foundation and base, power will translate naturally.

What martial art would you suggest to parents for their kids and why?
I would suggest boxing or Muay Thai for self-defence and wrestling and BJJ for building confidence and a strong will.

What is your opponent’s strongest point?
His strongest part is his Jits. Hands down, that is where I can see him being the strongest and the most dangerous in this fight. I am excited to test myself vs some of the best in South Africa.

Where are you better than your opponent?
I believe I’m one of the most well rounded heavyweights in the world which will create problems for Potts. I’m confident in my skill on the ground, on my feet, and in the clinch. I can quickly adapt to styles and always move forward.

These two mega title fights take place at the top of an action packed 12-bout fight card, featuring many of the organisation’s best.

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 (South Africa) at 23:00. Full broadcast details available on efcworldwide.com.