For every former champion like Maurice Smith, there’s also a name like Stefan Leko, who did quite well in kickboxing, but then stumbled, crashed and burned in his MMA career.
Over the past year, kickboxing powerhouse Tyrone Spong has been training his complete MMA game to ensure that he lands more on the Maurice Smith side of things and a little less on the Stefan Leko page. Spong has been a main training partner for the Blackzilians in Florida, where he works with fighters like Rashad Evans, Alistair Overeem and Anthony Johnson on a daily basis.
The training has paid off and Spong will finally make his MMA debut this Saturday night at World Series of Fighting.
“You’ve got to take your time to orientate yourself, what you’re getting yourself into. I’m a kickboxer, I’m a striker, so I had to work on my ground game and I wanted to take my time to do so. I’m not saying I’m a world class grappler or world class wrestler right now, but right now I’d say I understand the game good enough to put on a good show for the fans,” Spong answered when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio about why this is the right time for his debut.
Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
Spong has studied that ideal quite a bit as he heads into his debut fight, and that’s why he put in more than a year of MMA training before officially making the move. He didn’t want to be another unsuccessful case of a kickboxer trying to make it in MMA.
Spong wants to be the new standard and not the exception to the rule.
“That’s why I took my time. I did my proper training with the right people. I’m not afraid to submit myself and listen because a lot of strikers are very hard headed, and if you’re a striker it’s kind of hard to do the ground stuff, and it’s kind of boring sometimes because you’re used to something else,” said Spong.
“I totally submitted myself to my coaches and my teammates, and listened to what I have to do. I was just a student. I just started from scratch.”
The training and time paid off, but Spong understands it’s all theoretical until he steps into the cage. If all of the work was done correctly, Spong believes every light heavyweight in the world should be worried about his entry into the sport.
“I’m a guy they should keep in mind,” said Spong. “I’m a threat to the 205-pound division.”
(Photo credit: Ryan Loco)