By Jayson du Toit
KNUXX SA recently interviewed the three MMA brothers Gareth Buirski, Matt Buirski and David Buirski all fighting out of Centurions SHIDO fighting systems.
Gareth has been training MMA for just under three years with an amateur record of 10-1 before moving over to the pro’s where he holds a record of 3-1 with just coming off a great KO victory over Terrence Griessel at EFC Africa 16. Gareth hopes to be chasing the featherweight title soon.
At 28 years old David is the oldest of the three Buirski brothers. David has been training MMA for three years and comes from a background of Muay Thai which he competed in for four years. He boasts an 8-0 record in his amateur MMA career and 3-1 record as a pro. David also competes at EFC Africa in the welterweight division.
Matt Buirski is the youngest of the three brothers at 24 years old. Matt also comes from a Muay Thai background and has been competing in MMA for two years now where he boasts an amateur record of 5-1 and is currently prepping for a big fight in December.
Here is what the Buirski brothers had to say:
KNUXX: Why did the three of you choose MMA as a sport as oppose to more “traditional” sports?
Gareth: We have always been tough guys in whatever sport we compete in whether it be rugby cricket or any other more traditional sports. We have always been very physical and dedicated fitness wise and the level of fitness that you have to have in the cage is the toughest aspect of the sport and we really enjoy it! The fight is actually the easiest part of the sport it’s the ten weeks of training prior to the fight that’s the difficult part. We really enjoy the challenges and mental aspects that it takes to be a MMA athlete.
KNUXX: The Buirski brothers have a reputation for being fitness freaks so what sets you apart from your competition?
David: The three of us have always believed that hard work will always beat talent on any given day, don’t get me wrong talent plays a huge role but if the most talented fighter out there doesn’t have the fitness he won’t be able to last the rounds and will be finished off. My worst nightmare is getting into the cage knowing that my opponent is fitter than me because he will have the upper hand and that’s why fitness plays such a huge role in what we do.
Gareth: There are only so many things you can control when going into the cage and fitness is one of the things that you can 100% control. You need to put in the hours in order to not gas out in the first round of a fight and that is massively important. You need to go into a fight as fit as possible and if your opponent is not as fit as he should be then it’s he’s own problem. You need to put in the hours.
Matt: When the three of us train together it’s almost like we have two constant opponents because not once has any of us given up when we are facing each other. If Gareth hits me hard I am going to hit him harder and because we are family we sometimes cross that line when we are sparring because with other guys we might just take it easy but when we are training together we go all out because at the end of the day none of us want to be the “fag” that gives up! We really do push each other very hard in whatever we do.
KNUXX: Take us through your average day.
Gareth: Obviously when coming up to a fight the training will intensify. Myself and David have just opened a business together so David did not fight on the card of the last EFC and that gave me a lot more time to train as he handled the business side of things. He would be at work while I would put in 6 hour training session to get ready for my last fight. On a regular day we work full time, sometimes up to 12 hours a day and then go to the gym then race home to cook food, eat and go to sleep, wake up and do it again.
Matt: I work in a different aspect of the construction business but still work from 7am to 5pm everyday. After work I rush to gym and try to get a run in before training, I then train for 3 hours rush home to cook food for the next day so that I can stick to my diet, go to sleep, wake up and do it again.
KNUXX: Describe the local MMA scene as it is today.
David: MMA in South Africa only really exploded about 5 years ago and since then it has had massive growth. I don’t think a lot of people knew about it until the introduction of EFC Africa and since then it has given a lot of exposure to African MMA.EFC now gets broadcast right throughout Africa to many different audiences and from my perspective it’s just getting bigger and bigger. There are a lot more fighters coming in to the professional scene and that’s only a good thing. The amateur scene is also booming and is very competitive and I can only see South African MMA growing from strength to strength.
KNUXX: Why do you think MMA has become so main stream and surpassed other combat sports?
David: I don’t know really but sometimes I sit down and think that people are sick to go and buy tickets to go and watch two men beat each other up in a cage but I suppose that’s human nature. I also think that MMA offers so much to the fans as you basically have every combat sport combined into one fighting art. MMA athletes are machines and I don’t think that there is another sport where you would need this level of fitness and conditioning in order to compete. I think it provides another level of entertainment for the fans.
KNUXX: What is it like for a fighter to compete at EFC?
David: EFC is awesome! I had two pro fights before I stepped into EFC and the lights the crowd and the vibe at EFC actually made me feel a lot calmer. You get treated very well by EFC as a fighter and all the fans are great. It’s awesome fighting for the EFC and there is so much exposure from it. I think that if any fighter tells you that he is not nervous fighting in front of 10 000 people and however many television viewers then he is lying but like we said if you prepare well there is not much to be nervous about.
Gareth: I think the EFC has stepped MMA up to another level in comparison to all the other promotions that are out there. I love fighting for them because it is really professional and so well organised. The fighters get treated very well and are well looked after. Walking out into a stadium filled with 7 to 10 000 people is just sick hey! I did not realize how many fans had followed us through the amateur ranks because I didn’t really think many people knew me but when you get into the third round and you hear people chanting your name it gives me more energy. It’s unreal what EFC has done for MMA in our country.
KNUXX: Gareth congratulations on your latest EFC Africa 16 win over Markus Taljaard. That over hand right was epic and you won KO of the evening. Take us through the fight.
Gareth: In my first EFC fight I fought Koba Lakobidze who was once Taljaard’s opponent and I beat him. Koba and Markus have very similar fighting styles as they both favour their hands more than anything else, they are both taller than me and I’m short and stocky even though I had to do a big weight cut to get to 66kg from 80kg so I carry a lot of power going into those fights. My fitness is superb and my resting heart rate is around 46bpm when going into those fights so I come in at peak condition. We have watched Taljaards other fight and knew that he would come out with those lazy jabs and favour his hands if you look at that fight he didn’t throw one kick. We have been working on my over hand right for 7 weeks now and I was just waiting for the right moment to throw it. I actually threw the punch in the first round but missed and hit him in the chest but he still went down so coming into the second round I could feel his energy coming for me and all he wanted to do was land a big one on me but I slipped his punch and landed it perfectly and that was the end of the fight.
KNUXX: You have a tough ladder to climb in the EFC featherweight division so who would you like to fight next?
Gareth: The featherweight division is pretty packed now and there are a lot of contenders for the belt like Boyd Allen, Abdul Hassan, Wesley Hawkey and Terrence Griessel that I had an unlucky loss to at EFC Africa 14.I beat Terrence the first two rounds but ended up getting a guillotine loss to him. I just put me neck out in the wrong place and it was a mistake I made but I have put it down to experience now. I would like to get redemption by beating Terrence but whoever the EFC put in front of me I will fight, I just want to get to that title now and I’m not far off I just need one more good win against a Hawkey or Allen and I will be right there for a title shot. I just want to train hard and stay humble and fight anybody they ask me to, that’s my immediate goal for now.
KNUXX: David at EFC 14 you had an impressive TKO win over Kelvin Mwale and following that you had a decision loss to Francois Kabulu, how has your first loss changed you as a fighter?
David: It was a tough loss because it was my first loss since I started MMA even from my amateur career. I ran 12 fights unbeaten so my first loss was a tough pill to swallow and the nastiest thing for me was that I didn’t get beat up in the fight at all! I was put on my back which is not an excuse but I didn’t get out of there. You learn a lot in fights and like Gareth said from a loss you learn from it and you move on from it. It has made me hungrier and I just can’t wait to get back in the cage and do what I do.
KNUXX: So going forward David what is next for you? Are you staying at welterweight?
David: I will never leave a division on a loss! I am a big welterweight and like Gareth I do a big weight cut from 92kg and lose around 15kg so it takes a lot of stress and strain on the body and mind but that’s what we do and who knows after my next fight I will see how the weight cut goes and maybe fight at middleweight but for now I am happy at welterweight and I am going to fight my fights.
KNUXX: Will we be seeing you at EFC 17?
David: I won’t be competing in EFC 17 as I have said, myself and Gareth has opened a business and unfortunately MMA does not pay the bills yet. We have been doing a lot of afterhours work so for now I am going to let the body rest but you will be seeing me at EFC Africa 18 and that is what I am going to focus on until then.
KNUXX: We are really looking forward to seeing you in the cage again!
KNUXX: What weight division are you currently fighting in?
Matt: I am currently fighting at featherweight.
KNUXX: What’s currently on the cards for you Matt? Where are you in your career?
Matt: I have heard rumours of a title fight but nothing has been confirmed as yet. I am currently training as hard as possible for any opponent they put in front of me. I am dieting hard and have also made a weight cut from 76kg to 66kg so it’s not as bad as Gareth but for me it’s still a big one. I am still young in my career and I am trying to learn as much as possible everyday. I want to still have another 3 or 4 amateur fights and hopefully want to compete at EFC Africa by the end of next year. I have set a goal to transform my body and perhaps enter EFC as a bantamweight. I want to do a few test cuts and see how my body handles it but for now I am loving the sport and loving learning everyday. I am learning so much from my amateur fights and I think that will set me up for a good EFC career in the future.
KNUXX: What has it been like growing up with your two older brothers David and Gareth?
Matt: (They all start laughing) It was a tough time growing up with these two and we have been in some big brawls but it has made me tougher. In training David has knocked my front tooth out with a knee, Gareth knocked both my front teeth out practicing his overhand right, Gareth has also broken my finger so I can defiantly say that it’s been tough but also made me tougher. I said to Gareth that when he won the KO bonus at EFC 16 that he owes me a few bucks for my teeth! Haahaa!
KNUXX: How do you guys prepare mentally for your fights?
Gareth: One of our biggest influences is our coach Arno Pienaar. He has been with us since the beginning. I come from no fighting background what so ever I just started three years ago and I have learned everything for Arno. No matter what we are doing he is always there and putting mental notes in our head. The way he prepares us gives us confidence to go into that cage and in our mind we know that whatever your opponent can bring will not be as much as what we handle during training. When I stepped into the cage with Markus I thought to myself has this guy done what I have done in training because if he had then I would have been in trouble. Our training builds up our ability to mentally handle anything that any opponent can throw at us!
David: There will always be nerves before a fight but its how you control those nerves that makes a difference and like Gareth said if you are not prepared properly that’s when you start to stress and gets you worried. When you know that you are fit and strong and at your peak come fight night it takes so much of that stress away from you. FROM GREAT PREPERATION COMES GREAT CONFIDENCE. Arno trains us to fight multiple opponents so when you face your opponent at a fight you think to yourself what can this one guy do to me?
Matt: I fully agree with what my brothers have said. It’s the preparation that helps us mentally for a fight. With any training I do I am always thinking to myself am I going harder than the other person and when I step into a fight I need to be sure that I have trained harder than my opponent. For me fighting is a spiritual and a lot of my mental strength comes from the Lord and He helps me a lot. Fighting is an emotional sport and you can have sleepless nights thinking about your fights but I think that’s what draws me to the sport, the rush you get from fighting, the joy of winning, it’s very emotional and those aspects of the sport draw me towards it. I love it.
The difference between me and my bothers is that I take notes and read them before a fight. When guys are warming up before a fight you will see me reading my notes and that helps me to think, I know that when I am in a situation or certain position in the cage I know what to do. It’s a different approach but it helps me mentally prepare for a fight.
Gareth: We are always with each other at fights and always in each others corners which helps us tremendously and adds a lot of confidence knowing that your brothers are there. That plays a big role for us.
Who do you guys look up to in the MMA world?
Gareth: I’m not really the type of person that looks up to people but in a role model sense it would be Arno Pienaar our trainer. Just the way that he handles himself, he is a very straight forward person and will tell you exactly how it is with no bullshit. He is a true martial artist and we are not gangsters or anything like that we are professional athletes that are competing in a sport. That is why Arno is my biggest role model because of what he portrays and brings out in us.
David: I fully agree with Gareth.
Matt: I agree. Arno is one of the toughest people I have ever met in my life! When your coach is almost 40 and yet so tough it makes you think what am I? I’m a bit of a “fag”. When I train with him I often say Shit!! I have to try harder! He is a big driving force in what we have done and he pushes us forward. He comes from a military background and in that sense he is strict but you will never catch him saying a bad word about anybody and I respect that.
KNUXX: What can we expect from the Buirski brothers in 2013?
David: We are trying to grow our new business as much as we can. From a MMA point of view all three of us have our eyes set on a title because we are not in this sport to be second best. We compete in any given sport to be the best at it and that’s what we are going to achieve. For me I am going to fight as many fights as I can, I will fight whoever they put in front of me and I am going to work towards that title.
Gareth: I agree with David. I am coming off a good win now so in 2013 whoever EFC put in front of me I will hopefully do the same. I am one or two fights away from a title shot so I am going to keep training hard and keep fit and strong. I am going to go out there and beat whoever they put in front of me and work towards the title.
Matt: I want to have a few more fights and get some experience under my belt and next year is when I want to make my transformation to bantamweight. I want to make a big statement when I come into EFC.I want to be like Gareth and get a few knock outs of the night! Haahaa!
KNUXX: Lastly if the three of you had to fight each other right now who would win?
David: Probably Gareth because he is the fittest right now but myself and Matt will tag team him and fight for the belt at the end! Haahaaaa!
The Buirski brothers would like to thank: Shido Fighting Systems, Arno Pienaar for all the training, Full Contact Nutrition, Drako Demolition, Venum Fight Gear, Undisputed management, Remedy clothing, Arcane MMA, Nick Roos, KNUXX Brand, Marius and Linda from Shido.