Exclusive (Part 2): Tyrone Spong Talks Glory Debut, Blackzilians and Being the Lethal Leopard
As if preparing for his MMA debut isn’t enough, Spong will make his debut for the Glory World Series event in Tokyo this December. He’s extremely excited about facing some of the legends of the sport as well as the young, up and comers he believes will lead the sport into the future.
“Glory is the organization that has the most elite strikers in the world, the best of the best,” admitted Spong. “That’s the only reason I signed with them, I was done with K-1 because all of the bullshit that was going on with them not paying fighters. Glory came up with an offer I couldn’t refuse. All I need is for my checks to come in on time and a good opponent, that’s all I want.”
“In my last fight I fought Peter Aerts, he’s is a legend in kickboxing. He’s been fighting for so many years and he’s still competing at the highest level. Jerome LeBanner, Remy Bojansky and Semmy Schilt have achieved so much in the sport already. Then you have guys like Erol Zimmerman, Gokhan Saki and Anderson “Braddock” Silva who fought Bojanksy in his last fight which he lost in the extra round. Those guys are the future and with all those veterans, Glory is bound to be successful.”
“They have a whole new concept that will feature shorter, faster paced rounds. If you lose the first two rounds then you will have lost the fight. It gives the smaller guys like me and Saki a better chance to win. All the fights are going to be hard and competitive bouts. I think they plan on coming over to the US and building their brand here as well. Even at the European MMA events when the fight hits the ground the crowd starts booing. Fans want to see guys standing and banging it out. I never really understood why kickboxing wasn’t big in the States. Maybe with this new organization they can compete with the UFC.”
Kickboxing maybe Spong’s first love, but if he finds success in mixed martial arts and draws the attention of UFC President Dana White, he will make the Octagon his permanent home.
“I think if things go well in MMA I will get picked up by the UFC,” Spong offered. “The UFC says they have the best fighters so if things go well for me they will have to sign me. If they want the best then they have to sign the best.”
Back in December of 2010, Spong lost to teammate Alistair Overeem via unanimous decision at the K-1 2010 World Grand Prix quarter final. Due back in December from a suspension, Spong believes Overeem will defeat the winner of the Cain Velasquez-Junior Dos Santos rematch and add the UFC title to his collection.
“To be honest with you I see Overeem becoming the UFC Heavyweight Champion,” said Spong. “He’s a beast, his striking is on a real high level and he’s fast for a big guy. He is so strong and his ground game is so solid, I just see him becoming the UFC champion.”
Joe Rogan likes to enhance the UFC fighter’s skills and really does a good job of hyping them up and getting the fans excited to watch them fight. With that being said Spong believes Kickboxers are natural strikers while most MMA fighters were trained in other disciplines first, but he mentioned a few champions whose striking dwarfs that of the other fighters in their weight class.
“These guys have to sell the fight and they need to make it exciting for the fans,” offered the Suriname native. “If you’re a real fighter then you can see when someone’s striking isn’t elite, but it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s fun to watch and it gives me added motivation to work on my ground game and to come in and show guys what good striking looks like.”
“A lot of these guys grew up in a country where wrestling or BJJ was the number one sport. If you’re here in America and go to college, it’s all about wrestling while if you’re in Brazil it’s all about Jiu-Jitsu. But if you grow up in Europe you begin training kickboxing at a young age, but there are some pretty good MMA strikers. I enjoy watching Jose Aldo, it’s not perfect, but in MMA you don’t have to have perfect technical striking. His striking is superior than most of the other guys in the sport. Jon Jones and Anderson Silva are two more examples as their striking is superior to the other guys in their respective divisions.”
When he’s not in the cage, Spong spends a lot of time with his animals and his family. In fact we believe we have come up with his MMA nickname, The Lethal Leopard.
“I’m an animal lover, I love all animals in general,” Spong admitted. “I don’t go out on safari or whatever, but where I was born (Suriname) in South America, it’s a big part of the Amazon. Whenever I make my way back there I go to the jungle and enjoy nature. If I were to be a big cat I’d be a Leopard, I stalk my opponents and I strike with accurate precision and I always go for the kill.”
“I have birds and I have my dogs. I have small finches and I keep them in traditional Surinamese cages. I walk around with them and even take them with me to the gym sometimes. It’s very traditional and a lot of Brazilians recognize it because they have birds too. I also have three kids and I love spending time with them. I like going to the beach and taking it easy.”
Spong is very grateful to all of his friends, coaches, training partners and his friends. He is well aware of how much impact they have had on his career thus far and knows they are an integral part of his future.
“I want to give a shout out to my manager Glenn Robinson and The Blackzilians,” stated Spong. “I have so many great teammates that I can’t even begin to call them all out. Rashad has always been there for me and is my brother. “King Mo” Lawal is my boy and the first one to promote me here in the US. He knows what he’s talking about, he’s a student of the game. I love all of the fans out there and want to thank them for their support.”