It's not a new concept for a fighter to decide to crossover into different combat sports, testing their skills against the best mixed martial artists, kickboxers or boxers.
Rarely, however, do any fighters find high-level success in multiple sports while dabbling in their chosen crafts. UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem is one fighter that probably came the closest to conquering two sports with his run as Strikeforce heavyweight champion, and eventually capturing the K-1 Grand Prix title in kickboxing.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Maurice Smith started out as a kickboxing phenomenon, winning multiple titles, before moving over to the sport of MMA where he also gained legendary status.
Tyrone Spong hopes to outdo them all and he's wasting no time letting his intentions be known because the 27-year old Dutch fighter wants to conquer three different combat sports before his career is finished.
Spong is already considered one of the best kickboxers on the planet having defeated some of the biggest names in the industry, and hopes to do the same this weekend when he competes in a one-night Glory tournament in New York City.
But Spong won't be happy just being the best kickboxer on the planet. He's already 1-0 as a mixed martial artist and, after his Glory tournament this weekend, Spong plans on returning to World Series of Fighting in August for his second bout.
From there, Spong will then move over into the world of pro boxing where he's been learning the craft under the tutelage of famed trainer Pedro Diaz. It's a lofty goal to conquer one sport, but Spong is confident he can be one of the best in three different combat sports simultaneously.
"I want to go down in the sport as the greatest fighter of all time in different sports," Spong told Bleacher Report recently. "You have lot of fighting disciplines—you have karate, you have judo, you have this, you have that, but I think the hardest combat sports out there really are kickboxing, boxing and MMA.
"Those are the sports that really have my heart, too. I'm just following my dream."
It may sound cocky for Spong to make such a statement considering he only has one MMA fight and currently zero boxing matches to his name, but that shows just how confident the young fighter is in his own abilities.
Spong's kickboxing accomplishments are already noted, and he believes working with coaches like Diaz for boxing as well as his full MMA team at the Blackzilians camp in Florida can prepare him for a successful run through three sports.
"I'm really blessed that I have the ability to adjust," Spong stated. "A lot of people, I remember when I first came out to the states a couple of years ago, there were a lot of people who doubted me. Not doubted my qualities, but doubted if it was possible to participate in different disciplines like MMA and kickboxing. I'm going to make things even worse—I'm going to compete in boxing just to prove them wrong. Because it's a challenge for me, I love challenges and that's the kind of guy I am."
There's no doubt Spong is already one of the most devastating strikers in the world, no matter what sport he's competing at. Spong is deadly accurate with his punches, and when he lands flush on an opponent, bad things tend to happen.
He recently knocked out kickboxing legend Remy Bonjasky, and that's one fight after he punished and finished another icon of the sport in Peter Aerts.
Spong isn't shy when talking about his striking because he knows all he needs is one slight opening or for an opponent to make a mistake and they will wake up staring at the lights wondering what just happened.
"I think I'm definitely one of the best strikers in the world without trying to be cocky," Spong said. "Just speaking facts. I'm just in a rage to build up my own legacy as one of the best athletes in combat sports."
Spong's declaration will certainly be met with some criticism, but he's not backing down no matter what anyone says about his goals to be considered the best fighter in the history of combat sports.
Former NFL and Major League Baseball All-Star Bo Jackson, who is one of the most prolific two sport athletes ever, may have summed it up best when he said, "set your goals high, and don't stop till you get there."
Spong's goals are set, and he's determined to make his dreams a reality.
"That's exactly what I'm aiming for," Spong said about being the best fighter in the world. "It's something that motivates me. I enjoy doing it, I have the best coaches to do that. Everything is just falling in the right places."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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