Vuyisile “The Cheetah” Colossa is a South African kick boxer and MMA fighter based in Hong Kong who is currently competing in South Korea’s ROAD FC Lightweight Tournament. In September during the quarterfinals, he devastated Kim SeokMo‘s chances of moving into the semifinals by a barrage of knees and punches, and now Vusi – as he’s known to friends – will face Nam YuiChul (14-4) at the coming weekend’s ROAD FC 10 in Busan. The Cheetah has faced Nam in the cage before, and lost by decision. He has completely changed his life and training for this tournament, which sees not only top Korean lightweight Nam in the semis, but also Japan’s stellar Takasuke “Da Jaguar” Kume (14-1) and Yoon Chul, who steps in for the unfortunately ill semifinalist Lee YongJae.
MMA-in-Asia caught up with Vusi in Hong Kong, shortly before his trip to Busan, and asked him about his career, his new family, and his participation in the ROAD FC Lightweight Tournament.
How did you get started in martial arts?
When I was a kid in primary school, I watched a lot of martial arts movies, I grew up on them.
Like Bruce Lee?
Yeah, Bruce lee, Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude VanDamme. As a kid watching those movies I said “Oh wow, I want to be that”. I already did lots of sports, but I really wanted to be a kick boxer. So yes, from the movies, that’s how I got started.
What was your first fighting experience?
That was many years ago, like 15 years ago. When I started fighting, I remember I lost my first fight because of point scoring. Because of the rules you couldn’t punch to the face, you were really limited, and it went very quick. The fight was a one minute fight in a tournament, because there were lots of guys in the same weight category. I don’t know how they judged it because it went too quick! It was like putting two chickens together, like a chicken fight! I remember losing by one point in my first fight against a guy who was really experienced at it.
When you first went out of South Africa and overseas to fight, what was it like?
My first fight overseas was the WAKO World Pro Title, that was back in 2002.
So you had some championships at home first?
Yes, but it was in full contact, not like in the traditional rules of Muay Thai. I’d never trained for anything like low kicks, so I remember I went to training for two weeks before the fight for the world title. The guy’s name, Neil Woods, he really kicked my ass for that fight. I wasn’t expecting it: how to block a low kick, how to kick a low kick.
When and why did you make the decision to start fighting in MMA?
When you grow up in the martial arts, you’re always looking for challenges. I’m the guy who always likes something new, different. I looked at MMA and saw it was growing quickly, so I wanted to try it out, it was something new and interesting. If you’re a martial artist, you have to always try different things so you can evolve.
Tell me about that evolution; give some insight as to how you’ve developed.
Evolution is a road, right? I started as a kick boxer, then I moved to Muay Thai, now it’s MMA. I’m always hungry for something that is new. I like challenges, so MMA is good for me. My skills have been developing and that keeps my mind open.
How many times have you fought in South Korea?
This will be my third time fighting MMA in Korea, I think I’ve fought four times before that in K-1 and kick boxing rules. I’m no stranger to Korea.
What do you think about the fans there, and the atmosphere when you fight? Is it different from other places?
It’s a little bit different for me because people know me, they knew me before as a stand up fighter, and now the stand up fighter is doing MMA. So I’m tapping into more goals, I’m inspiring more stand up fighters, who say “this guy used to do K-1 events and now he’s doing MMA”. For me, I love Korea. It’s the birthplace of the name “The Cheetah”. I remember when I fought my last stand up fight in Korea they called me “the Black Cheetah” so that’s how I got the name. It was awesome!
What do you think about the Korean fighters?
Korean fighters are hard-working guys, good fighters. They are pretty talented, and whatever they do, they do it to their utmost best. You can always expect a lot from them. They are good guys.
How do you feel about the ROAD FC Lightweight tournament, your opponent and the rest of the field, and how do you see the fight going in the semifinals?
The lightweight tournament has a great field. My first opponent was SeokMo, and my next opponent Nam is Korean as well. I’m excited about the tournament. Very excited!
How is your new gym, Epic MMA Club?
It’s a great environment to be in. Those guys really know how to work me. I’m coming from a stand up background and I’ve got all these well-achieved jiu jitsu black belts. Judo and wrestling too. Like I said before, it’s all about evolving, growing in the sport.
You’re working together with Mostafa Abdollahi who just fought Toby Imada in S-Cup and regularly fights high level Muay Thai. Does this help in your training, to be able to have someone alongside you who is also regularly competing?
Of course, it only adds to my confidence, it only adds to my whole game. That’s what I need. If I’m in a stable of guys training for competition it keeps me sharp. When other guys are training, I’m training with them, so I’m always training.
Have you been working with anyone else for this fight? Or on anything specifically to face Nam?
This fight I’ve been training my stand up and I’m confident with my stand up. When it comes to jiu jitsu and wrestling stuff, I’ve been training with Alberto Mina. He’s a judo and jiu jitsu black belt, he’s 10-0, and he fights in Bellator. It’s been great. For this fight coming up with Nam, I don’t think much will will change, from him I mean. I don’t think that he will surprise me that much. Even if he comes at me with his stand up, I won’t be that surprised. He can come with the take downs, I won’t be that surprised. He’ll have to do something very incredible, something that is out of the ordinary to really surprise me. By saying that, I don’t mean that I’m comfortable with whatever – I’m waiting for a surprise. Let’s see who will bring it on.
After this tournament, will you still take Muay Thai or stand up fights, or are you strictly focusing on MMA now? What’s your game plan?
My future game plan. With stand up, I’m not done yet. I’ve got another 8-man tournament coming up on New Years Eve in China. Stand up will always be in my heart, it’s very hard to quit it just like that, unless I get a very good deal in MMA. But it doesn’t mean I’m not training in it at all, it’s just that if I’m doing an MMA fight I’m focused on training MMA. Before, I would just do one or two weeks of MMA, but now it’s more specific training, which is excellent. When I do stand up, it keeps me in really good shape when it comes to my stand up in MMA.
Being a full-time coach, do you have anything to recommend to guys who are starting out in their fight careers, or who want to be professional fighters and follow in your footsteps?
Just be patient, it’s not easy, even after one year of training. I’ve been doing this 16 years and it’s hard. It’s a struggle, but in a good way. I would say just keep your head down and be humble, and come in to train every day, and just do your best.
You have a new family now, a wife and a 5-month old baby. How has your life changed, and has your outlook on your fighting career changed?
With the family and the baby, everything has changed! Everything now has a new meaning. Before I did everything for myself. If I wanted to fight, it was for myself. Now it’s for my family, it has new meaning, I have a baby and a wife, a few more mouths to feed. But martial arts is life, so it’s not all just about the fighting – I’m not just a fighter, I’m a martial artist. I live and breathe martial arts every day.
So your wife is supportive of this career? Do you have a good support network around you?
Always. Whatever you do in life, you must always be around people who support you and believe in you. My wife is very, very supportive with my training and everything. When I’m going through my dieting, she’s always around. She comes to my fights and she’s supportive. If she can’t come see my fight, she’s always nervous, because she always wants to be in my corner and give me extra support.
You’ve also got something else going that makes your life a little more complicated, you’re in the second season of your White Collar MMA Championship. Why did you decide to start this kind of promotion?
My reason for White Collar MMA was mostly based in education. I want to get the guys in banking and other professions to get a taste of it so they can understand it more. The only way for them to appreciate it more is to experience it, to see it’s not just a brutal sport, it’s a lifestyle changing thing. Just look at how boxing used to be a brutal sport and now it’s a ‘gentleman’s sport’ – white collar guys were introduced to it. I want to do the same for MMA. I want them to see that it’s not just two guys going in there and punching each other out, it’s a lifestyle sport. The perception has been that these guys are animals and I want to change that. I’m also trying to give back through the charity aspect behind it, I always believe in giving back. I say that because when you grow up from having nothing, you understand what is giving. If you grow up with playstations and all that, it’s very hard for you to understand the concept. I want to go further with this, and take underprivileged children and put them into MMA, give them something, teach them about the sport so they can learn to be champions.
Are there any fighters that you look up to or admire?
That’s early hard for me to answer. What is admiration based on, people’s achievements? Only in the ring or in life in general? You know a fighter once he’s a champion, before that you don’t know where they’re from, how they grew up, what their struggles were. I didn’t grow up around a lot of martial artists or fighters, so it’s hard for me to say there’s someone I really look up to. When I look up to guys, it’s because they are champions in the sport, and I like the way they fight. Or I’d like to fight like them. I remember the first time I saw Ernesto Hoost fight. That’s when I said “I want to fight like that.” I didn’t know anything about him or his background, I just saw him in the ring.
Thank you Vusi, we wish you the best of luck in your martial arts career.