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Tyrone Spong Talks Kickboxing, Has Eyes Set On MMA Debut

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Tyrone Spong explains that he hasn't yet been paid for last year's K-1 Grand Prix, his thoughts on his final kickboxing fight with Melvin Manhoef, the potential that Badr Hari and Gokhan Saki have in boxing, and when he will make his MMA debut.

via Ryan Loco of Heavy.com/Jaco Clothing.
via Ryan Loco of Heavy.com/Jaco Clothing.

Tyrone Spong is one of the best young kick boxers in the world. He's a student of the great Ernesto Hoost and in last year's Grand Prix, he almost upset Alistair Overeem in the quarter finals. Recently, like many kick boxers, he's begun to test the waters of MMA, training with Rashad Evans at Imperial Athletics as a member of the Blackzillians fight team. MMA Nation caught up with Tyrone at the UFC 136 Fan Expo and got him to open up about his future in kickboxing and the rumored jump to MMA. 

K-1 is scheduled to be holding a World Grand Prix this year, with the first round taking place in China later this month on October 29th. Tyrone Spong is one of the rumored participants. When asked if he would be competing, he was pretty honest about his future with the Japanese event saying, "As of now, nothing is sure. K-1 still has to pay me and all the fighters too so if that happens..." Among those fighters that weren't paid include K-1 champion Alistair Overeem, Peter Aerts, Semmy Schilt, and Ray Sefo. He is scheduled to fight Melvin Manhoef in It's Showtime in 2012. 

With the state of kickboxing as it currently stands, many high level fighters are making the transition to MMA and boxing. Among those are Badr Hari and Gokhan Saki. I asked Tyrone if he believed this is the natural step for many high level kick boxers, he believes it is. "I think so, they're gonna try and do MMA or boxing. As far as Gokhan and Badr, very talented fighters, but I don't think what they're talking about, like challenging all the high class boxers and stuff like that. They never experienced that, I did. I trained with the very best boxers. I trained with Floyd Mayweather Sr. I sparred with a lot of boxers. I helped boxers prepare for their fights as a sparring partner for Bernard Hopkins. I know what I'm talking if I talk about boxing."

He added, "I don't know, it's their choice. I wish them the best of luck. I know I'm a talented athlete and I can do whatever I put my mind on. Whether it's boxing or MMA, I did it both in practice. It went very well. I have the skills to do it. I have the ability to learn very fast. I wish them the best of luck but I can only speak for myself."

Finally, when it was announced that Tyrone was training with Rashad Evans in preparation for his fight with Phil Davis, there were many rumors that Spong would soon be making his MMA debut. He addressed this as well, stating "as of now, I'm looking to work with some professional big organizations. There are some negotiations with a few big organizations. I can't really say anything about it right now. I'm just getting ready. I owe Mo Lawall a lot. He's my very good friend. He introduced me to the states. Through him I got to learn to know Rashad Evans. He's one of my very close friends now. Very talented athlete. We worked with the whole Blackzilian team. I've moved over to Florida."

Tyrone is 26 years enough and brings world class kickboxing to a sport where striking skills are often overstated as being "K-1 level". If he's able to learn takedown defense from Rashad Evans and Mike Van Arsdale at Imperial Athletics, he could be a name MMA fans will be hearing a lot about for years to come.