Danella Eliasov, as Tough as They Come
With EFC 37 fast approaching, we are set for some amazing fights. Leon Mynhardt faces Don Madge for the third time, Adam Seechly vs David Buirski. But the most anticipating fight, has to be Danella Eliasov vs Zita Varju. The first female bout for EFC worldwide.
I had the pleasure of interviewing one of these tough ladies, local girl, Danella Eliasov.
How were you introduced to MMA?
I did boxing and muay thai on and off over the years for fun . In 2009 I was introduced to jiu jitsu and started taking my training more seriously. I then transitioned to MMA and had my 1st fight in 2010.
Who has made the biggest impact on your MMA career?
My coaches and training partners.I owe my MMA career to their support and guidance. Wikus Swart, Liam Cleland, Gert Strydom and Daul de Vos have been there for me during this camp as coaches and friends. Nathan Raaths and Rory Diesel coached me for my first fight and were both instrumental in building my career. I owe these guys so much.
As a female fighter, you are faced with various challenges. How did you manage to overcome them?
As a female fighter I have faced many challenges. I started out as the only woman training with the pros. Initially, the other fighters were uncomfortable around me but over time I became accepted as one of them. One of the biggest challenges has been finding opponents over the years. A male fighter would have had far more opportunities to fight and gain experience. Overcame these challenges by persisting and refusing to accept no as an answer when told that woman can’t fight. For my first fight, I found my opponent myself and approached the promoter and convinced him to let us fight in his show.
This will be your first time at EFC as a fighter but you have been there as corner woman for Nkazimulo "Zuluboy" Zulu at EFC 22. How does it feel to finally be inside the hexagon?
I have cornered several fighters over the years. I was in the corner at the first EFC event in 2009 and later with Zulu. It is a dream come true to finally get my turn in the hexagon.
How has the EFC fighters of Tapout Academy treated you since you signed your contract? Have they given you any tips?
I am very blessed to have access to such high-level training at Tapout Academy. Liam Cleland (EFC middleweight contender) and I have been training together for a while. He helped prep me for my last fight and has been involved in this camp too. My coaches Gert Strydom, Wiekus Swart and Paul de Vos are all world-class.
Your opponent Zita Varju, has an extensive kickboxing history and you are BJJ specialist. Would you be comfortable with her stand up game and trading blows, or will you focus on your ground game?
I am very confident with my stand up game thanks to my coaches Gert and Paul. I also have extensive experience competing in BJJ, so i would be happy to stand with Zita or go to the ground. I don’t really like to have a rigid game plan for fights, so I am happy to see where the fight goes.
How difficult has it been preparing for this fight against a somewhat unknown fighter in South Africa?
It is no different to any other fight. I prepare by working on all aspects of my game either way, and will always assume my opponent will be strong in all spheres.
Lastly, do you feel that with the exposure female fighters are getting now with the new division added by EFC, that we might see a woman’s main bout some day?
I am sure we will, women fighters are usually very exciting as we tend to push the pace and leave it all in the cage. I have no doubt that Zita and i will put on a show not to be forgotten and earn women a future spot on the main card.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. I wish you all the best for your fight and may you both come out injury free.
History will surely be made on the 21st of February. Where one of these ladies will exit the hexagon, their first win in their professional record.
Catch Eliasov vs Varju at EFC 37, 21 February at Carnival City, Johannesburg.
Article by Darren McLean
Sponsored by Infinitus Jiu Jitsu