By Ross Patterson
Francois Meyer and Vuyo Jula make their professional debuts in Johannesburg this weekend. Both men feel ready for the step-up in competition and had some words of advice for athletes taking part in the IMMAF Africa Championships.
Meyer is a highly experienced mixed martial artist. He competed in two IMMAF World Championships and won a bronze medal in the 2019 Africa Championships. He is now facing off against Aly Kalambay in the Lightweight division of Omega MMA Championship. His time spent competing as an elite amateur has prepared him well for his professional career.
“I feel very calm about this pro debut. I’ve been in martial arts my whole life – since I was a kid. This is just the natural progression for me.”
Francois started with no-contact Karate as a child, then light-contact kickboxing. He then learned to grapple, practising wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He progressed to light-contact MMA, then semi-contact, then full-contact, and started to compete. Francois won the Who’s the Best in Africa tournament and then heard about the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation.
He said, “IMMAF is an awesome, awesome tournament. Olympic level stuff. It was cool to see all the different countries’ different approaches to mixed martial arts.”
Having taken part in three competitions, Francois would have liked to have done one more World Championships, but COVID stopped him. Now moving into the professional realm, he had some advice to pass on to the athletes taking part in the 2022 Africa Championships beginning on the 28th of April:
“At this point, there is not much you can change. It’s more about being able to adapt in the moment. And trust your coaches and your cornermen – you’re going to have to listen to them.”
“If you see your opponent is wanting to grind it out, you have to adapt. If you’re a Jiu-Jitsu player, trust your Jiu-Jitsu. If you’re a striker, you have to trust your striking. Iif you’re a wrestler, you have to trust your wrestling. If you’re a mixed martial artist and a complete fighter, then you can just go out there and have fun. Take the W, or multiple W’s in the tournament style.”
Also making his pro-debut on the same card is IMMAF alum Vuyo Jula. Vuyo took part in the IMMAF World Championships and Africa Championships in 2019 in the Flyweight division. He will also be looking to begin his professional career with a win.
“I feel like competing in IMMAF made me gain a lot of experience. I’m so confident about my upcoming fight tomorrow. I’m feeling ready to showcase my talent. And to athletes that are competing next week at the IMMAF Africa Championships, all I can say is that they must take this opportunity with their two hands. It’s all about experience fighting athletes from around the globe.”
Vuyo is facing a fellow South African also making his pro debut, the 7-0 “Black Panther”, Terence Balelo. It is set to be an excellent contest.
Between them, Francois Meyer and Vuyo Jula have 50 amateur contests, 3 South Africa National Championship Titles, the experience of 4 IMMAF competitions, and an IMMAF bronze medal. Both men are shining examples of the value of a long amateur career in mixed martial arts.
Fifty-seven athletes from nine countries will compete in the 2022 IMMAF Africa Championships. All of which will be looking to prove themselves as the best mixed martial artists in Africa. IMMAF is returning to the continent for the first time since 2019, with the tournament taking place at the EFC arena in Johannesburg, South Africa. Watch it live from the 28th-30th of April on IMMAF.tv