Just because they're both combat sports doesn't mean it should be easy for a kickboxer to give MMA a shot — and have relative ease picking the new sport up.
But that's pretty much how it worked for Tyrone Spong (1-0), who next month fights for just the second time in his pro MMA career – and carries the card for World Series of Fighting 4 as the main event against Angel DeAnda (11-2).
Spong's MMA debut in November at WSOF 1 was so impressive when he knocked out Travis Bartlett in the first round that he went straight to the top of the heap for the Las Vegas-based promotion.
"I feel very special that they put me as the main event, and I think it's also due to the fans," Spong told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio
). "That card (in November), I wasn't going to be on the main card – I was going to be on the undercard. But by the demand of the fans, I ended up on the main card. Now I'm in the main event. I think it's a smart move – you've got MMA fans and kickboxing fans who are going to watch, and boxing fans, too. It's something every promotion wants and needs nowadays."
WSOF 4 takes place Aug. 10 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif. The main card airs on NBC Sports Network following prelims that stream online at MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
Spong was, and still is, a highly decorated kickboxer, and just a month ago he won GLORY's 95-kilogram kickboxing title in New York. Training with the Blackzilians camp in South Florida, he had high hopes placed upon him prior to his MMA debut, and he lived up to all the hype.
But that came really as no surprise to him.
"Kickboxing is very natural for me – I've been doing it for such a long time," he said. "I think I have to be thankful for the fact I can adjust real easily and pick stuff up real fast in MMA. For me, it's nothing special – and I don't mean that in a cocky way. It's all natural for me. My kickboxing goes fluently."
And perhaps it's because kickboxing comes to easily to him that he's able to concentrate more energy on MMA in terms of training, then get right back on the kickboxing bicycle when he wants and needs to.
That's something he believes he'll continue to do – juggling both sports.
"As long as it's something that's a challenge to me, it's something that's going to motivate me," Spong said. "I'm at a certain stage in my career that I need a challenge to get me motivated. For me, if it's a good fight for me, I'll do it. With my MMA career, I'm still building up and I'm just looking to do great in all combat sports."
Maybe that includes boxing, something he's looking to get more involved in. Just not against Roy Jones Jr., whom he considers a friend. But maybe another legendary combat sports champion could find himself in Spong's crosshairs.
"Roy Jones (Jr.) is my friend, but business is business," he said. "I'd rather not box him – he's someone I really look up to. But if Anderson Silva wants to kickbox, of course – it'd be an honor to compete against such a great champion."