SA’s JP Buys and Wife Cheyanne Primed for UFC Debuts
South Africa’s JP Buys and his wife Cheyanne will both make their much-anticipated UFC debuts at UFC Fight Night: Brunson v Holland aka UFC Vegas 22 on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
Countryman Dricus du Plessis was also set to be in action in a middleweight match-up against Trevin Giles, but visa issues have delayed his hopes of building on the dream UFC debut he enjoyed last October.
Du Plessis’ disappointment came a week after the same fate befell Don Madge, who missed out on a third Octagon appearance against German Nasrat Haqparast at UFC Fight Night: Edwards v Muhammad.
There are no such problems for the husband and wife pair of JP and Cheyanne Buys, as they are based in Dallas, Texas, having moved from South Africa to take a full swing at their shared dream of fighting in the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion.
The couple chose Fortis MMA – with its elite coaching and connection to the UFC – as their training base and will realise their UFC dream in fairy-tale fashion at the UFC APEX.
JP Buys v Bruno Silva (flyweight)
JP will be up first when he battles Bruno Silva on the preliminary card. Brakpan-born Buys (9-2) is an outstanding wrestler – an African champion – and like so many high-level grapplers, he enjoyed a highly successful transition to MMA.
After a 6-0 amateur career, Buys burst onto South Africa’s biggest MMA stage – the EFC – in 2015 and won the interim flyweight title a little over a year later when he submitted Baldwin Mdlalose in the first round at EFC 54, avenging his only career loss up to that point in the process.
His only other defeat cruelly came on the most important night of his blossoming career in August 2017 when he succumbed to Joby Sanchez via second-round TKO on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS). Undeterred, he kick-started a four-fight win streak by capturing the EFC bantamweight title with a submission victory over Frenchman Philippe Rouch in April 2018 to earn a second opportunity on DWCS last November.
Returning to flyweight, he seized the moment and submitted Jacob Silva in the first round to earn a UFC contract. Silva disputed referee Marc Goddard’s stoppage, but Buys had done the deal and equally importantly, impressed White to punch his ticket to the ultimate showpiece in combat sports.
Still only 24 years old, he’s yet to enter his prime and has the wrestling and submission skills to cause a lot of flyweights problems inside the Octagon. His nickname, “Young Savage”, perfectly describes his fighting mentality – he’s a finisher on top of being a born competitor. He has five submissions and three KO/TKOs to his name and has only gone the distance once.
One of the keys to this fight for Buys will be to overcome the notorious Octagon jitters that have tripped up so many debutants over the years while also not being overzealous against his Brazilian opponent. Silva (10-5-2) is well-rounded, with a trio of tapouts and knockouts along with four decision victories.
“Bulldog”, however, remains winless after three UFC appearances. He was submitted by Khalid Taha in his promotional debut in October 2019, which has since been overturned to a no-contest after Taha was suspended following a positive drug test, and was outpointed by David Dvorak and Tagir Ulanbekov last year. He’ll be as nervous, if not more so than Buys, knowing he’s on the chopping block.
Silva’s an ideal first UFC foe for Buys. If he stays mentally strong, the South African should be able to overwhelm his opponent and get his hand raised. I suspect he’ll finish him on the ground.
Cheyanne Buys v Montserrat Ruiz (Strawweight) /span>
Like her husband, Cheyanne (5-1) also earned her UFC contract on DWCS last year. The St Petersburg strawweight received high praise from the UFC president for that dominant watershed win over Hilarie Rose and has been rewarded with a place on the main card.
“The Warrior Princess” was set to clash with Kay Hansen, however, the 21-year-old was forced to withdraw last Friday due to health issues. Enter Montserrat Ruiz (9-1), whose Mexican fighting spirit sees her step up on just over a week’s notice.
Ruiz is a gritty gamer…a multi-skilled one at that. Five of her nine wins were via stoppage – three by knockout and two by submission. The 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu product showcased her ground game in her last fight when she pulled off a scarf-hold armbar against Janaisa Morandin last July.
The rarity and degree of difficulty to secure such a submission in Invicta, the world’s leading ladies MMA promotion, earned her a title fight with Emily Ducote in November. The championship showdown, however, was called off at the 11th hour due to “enhanced Covid-19 protocols” and was to be rebooked, but Ruiz has instead jumped at the opportunity to make her UFC debut.
Buys shares her husband’s aggressive style and relentless drive, which they honed together on the mats in South Africa over the years and the States in recent months. The American’s as tough as a $2 steak, has great hand speed, is incredibly strong and has a knack for slamming opponents.
Being “selfish” on the night from a mental point of view will be challenging for both of the Buys’, but staying focused will probably prove more challenging for Cheyanne given she’s going on last (of the two), especially should things not go JP’s way.
The gameplan for the 25-year-old will probably be to keep it on the feet. Four of her five wins are by decision and the other by TKO. She’s good on the ground, but not taking any unnecessary risks if she does take Ruiz down is her smartest path to victory.
A late change in opponent is always a tricky curveball for the fighter who agrees to go-ahead, but Ruiz’s style isn’t too far removed from Hansen’s. On the flip side, Buys has had a full camp, whereas “Conejo Mad” has no doubt been training but not to the extent and with the intensity of a proper camp.
Having a standout wrestler for a husband and training partner should allow Buys to stuff Ruiz’s takedowns and outpoint her on the feet to complete the couple’s UFC fairy-tale.