Tyrone Spong Returns to MMA in June but Not Before Facing a Kickboxing Icon

Damon MartinContributor IMarch 20, 2013

photo courtesy of Ryan Loco
photo courtesy of Ryan Loco

Tyrone Spong has to be one of the most interesting stars in combat sports right now, and he's a man with many irons in the fire.

A longtime star in kickboxing, Spong faced the absolute best of the best for years, but eventually, as he continued to grow as a fighter, he started looking at newer and tougher challenges.

Spong then traveled to Florida, where he started working with the team at the Blackzilians and became close friends with fighters like Rashad Evans, who taught him the ground game and wrestling for the first time in his career.  For two years Spong practiced and drilled and learned the art of MMA before finally making his debut last year at World Series of Fighting.

The debut didn't disappoint as he cut through journeyman fighter Travis Bartlett like a knife through butter, but Spong's competitive hunger wasn't satisfied. 

Following the fight, Spong declared that he planned on staying active in three sports for his career—MMA, kickboxing and boxing—and he was going to do all of them without skipping a beat in his next few fights.

First up for 2013 will be a kickboxing match in London, England against K-1 Grand Prix champion and legend Remy Bonjasky as the headline fight for Glory 5 this weekend.

"He won three K-1 titles, so that's something that's very impressive.  He has a style that not everybody appreciates because it's not that exciting of a style, but still he beats a lot of big champions. That's something that makes a great fighter," Spong told Bleacher Report about Bonjasky ahead of their fight on Saturday.

Facing an icon of kickboxing like Bonjasky is exactly what Spong is looking for right now.  He wants to beat legends and champion or face all new challenges like how he's now also doing MMA and boxing at the same time. The bigger the obstacle, the more Spong wants to tackle it.

"I'm at a certain level right now in my career that I just need big fights to motivate me, or a challenge to motivate me," said Spong.   "In Remy (Bonjasky) I'm facing a big name in the sport, and that's something that motivates me. If it's boxing or MMA, it's a challenge. Those are things I really need at this stage of my career.

"Honestly, I've fought the best, I've beat the best, I have multiple titles, so what's there left to gain or to motivate me?  The only thing I can come up with are big names, big champions as opponents or challenges."

If Spong walks away uninjured from his fight this weekend, he will then turn his attention back to MMA, where he hopes to have his second fight this summer for World Series of Fighting.

"That's something that's on the schedule for June," Spong revealed.   "So I'll probably have my second MMA fight around June.  I'm just preparing and I'm hopefully going to give the fight fans what they want."

Don’t think Spong is forgetting about boxing, either, because he's training that every day alongside his kickboxing and MMA drills.  Following his first MMA fight last year, Spong immediately called for a fight against one of the legendary Klitschko brothers.

Obviously, Spong has no fear of challenges, and doing three combat sports in the span of a calendar year seems like the perfect way to see what he can do.

"I think I'm going to do all three sports this year," said Spong.   "I'm working with one of the best boxing coaches in the world right now, Pedro Diaz, and he's very enthusiastic about me and I'm very enthusiastic about me.  The training is going really good."

While numerous combat fighters have actually done all three sports before, Spong plans on doing all of them simultaneously and doesn't just want to dabble in them—he wants to be the best in the world at each one.  Given his determination and tremendous skill level, don't count Spong out from accomplishing any of those goals in 2013.

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.