People say you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Tyrone Spong got that hint on Saturday night.
The kickboxing legend made his MMA debut on Saturday night for The World Series of Fighting as he knocked out Travis Bartlett 3:15 into the fight. That's an impressive debut for any fighter, but Spong says he knows he can do better than what he showed on Saturday.
"I know I can do better," Spong told Bleacher Report. "It was amazing to experience all of this in my MMA debut. It was a very nice knockout and I showed some skills in the fight. The fans were happy with the fight. If I had to rate my fight on a one to ten scale, I would probably give the fight a 7.5-8."
A lot of people were talking about the straight right hand that knocked out Bartlett, with Spong just walking away from him and going to his corner. In the world of kickboxing, that's what you do when you knock a fighter down to the count of eight. Spong had a lapse to his kickboxing days for a moment after the knockdown.
"To be honest, it's in my system to away after the guy goes down and I wait for eight count," Spong stated. "I knew I caught him and knew the fight was over knowing he wasn't going to get up from that shot."
Coming from a different sport, the preparations leading into the new sport are usually different. Spong states a fight is a fight regardless of what form of combat it is.
"I wasn't more nervous because it was an MMA fight," Spong stated. "A fight is a fight. I get paid to show up, fight, try to do my best and entertain the crowd."
Watching the fight on Saturday, Spong looked relaxed in the cage for a fighter who was making his MMA debut. He credits that to his training partners, the Blackzilians in Boca Raton, Florida.
"The reason I was so relaxed is because of the guys I train with," Spong stated. "I work with Rashad Evans, Alistair Overeem, Jorge Santiago, Thiago Silva, Vitor Belfort and Anthony Johnson. To be able to train with those guys, test my skills against world champions and veteran's of the game, it gives me a good self-esteem boost."
Back in August, it was announced that Spong had signed a two-year, multi-fight deal with the kickboxing organization GLORY, with a debut at their December 2 event in Tokyo. The native of Suriname isn't sure if he will be fighting at that event.
"I'm taking my time to evaluate everything with my manager regarding what's going to happen in my career and what's going to be next," Spong stated. "I will make the decision this week, but I don't know for sure if I'm going to participate in the December show. I signed for four fights, so I'm going to have more kickboxing fights."
Spong stated on his twitter account on Sunday that he would like to face heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko in a boxing fight. Klitschko has yet to respond to the challenge. Spong, who has been sparring with boxing world champion Michael Grant, feels the heavyweight division in boxing needs some excitement and that he's the man who can bring that.
"I see myself as a menace to everybody out there if I just work hard and prepare well," Spong stated. "I also have been sparring with Michael Grant for awhile now. Heavyweight boxing right now is flat out boring. I think I can add some excitement to that division.
"I bring everything to the table. It's a challenge. I'm not cocky. I respect both Klitschko's because they are great champions, real ambassadors for the sport, but at the same time, they are my challenge. I would like to challenge both Klitschko's and go at it."
No one in combat sport has ever held world championships in boxing, MMA and kickboxing at the same time. Spong feels though that will change, as he wants to be the person to do it.
"That is something I would really like to do," Spong stated. "Nobody has ever accomplished that. I think I have the ability to do it. I really believe in myself. It doesn't come with ease. It is a lot of hard work and dedication. If I can put that all into my training, then I can do so."
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.
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