It was five years ago when former K-1 kickboxer Tyrone Spong first got his taste of a big time opportunity.
The Dutch fighter flew to America and began working with famed trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. and after several sessions together, Spong was offered his chance to go into the world of professional boxing.
At only 20 years of age, Spong was taken back by the offer and admits he was a little scared at the prospects of becoming a pro boxer.
ďIíve been to the states before and I trained with Floyd Mayweather Sr. and after that they offered me a boxing contract,Ē Spong told MMAWeekly.com. ďAt that moment I was young, I just had my first kid, I was 20 years old at the time. I was at the top of my game, but I was a little big scared to make the choice at that moment.Ē
Spong chose not to accept the offer and decided to go into kickboxing instead. Over the next few years, he became a nine-time world champion, and outside of claiming the K-1 World Grand Prix title, he put every trophy in his case that he ever sought after.
Now Spong is back at a pivotal crossroad. With K-1 floundering because of financial troubles, some of which include past money still owed to Spong, the Dutch fighter is contemplating another move, similar to the one Mayweather made a few years ago.
The world of mixed martial arts is calling and Spong might just be ready to answer. Heís been training in Florida alongside UFC light heavyweight contender Rashad Evans, as well as Danillo and Yuri Villefort, Gesias ďJZĒ Cavalcante, and their team nicknamed the ďBlackzilians.Ē
Since heís been helping the team with their striking, Spong has been working on his ground skills to see just how heíd fare if he decided to make the move into MMA.
ďIím just taking one step at a time. Iím very relaxed, Iím here so I might as well train my ground game a little bit. I like a challenge, so Iím working on that. Basically, I like a challenge. If they give me a good offer, the contract is good, why not? I might as well try it. Iím a fighter, fightingís my job,Ē Spong stated.
ďIf the offer is good, Iíll take it.Ē
Spong points out that his biggest goal right now is getting the best challenge out there. If kickboxing can no longer provide that along with financial stability then heíll move on to do something else.
ďItís something new and Iím not going to take it just for the money. If I take it, I take it as a challenge, and to show what kind of athlete I am. Iím a great athlete, fightingís like my second nature. If I put my effort into it, I can do it,Ē said Spong.
Kickboxers transitioning to MMA in the past have had mixed results. For every Alistair Overeem thereís also a Stefan Leko, but Spong is confident that he wonít fail if he moves to MMA.
ďIf I do make the move the one thing thatís going to make a big, big difference is my God-given talent. Iím really thankful and grateful for that,Ē Spong said. ďIím just something else. Itís not that I want to talk crap, but Iím just an athlete and I really enjoy fighting. I donít know why, but it helps me out in everything I do.Ē
Right now Spong is still training with the team in Florida before heading home to the Netherlands to train and spend time with his family. While no decisions have been made just yet, the kickboxing world remains in limbo, and Spong wants a challenge.
If that challenge is MMA, then Spong is happy to accept.
Another world class striker considering a move to MMA and who can blame him. With K-1 owing everybody money and seeing as MMA is a sure thing, why not.
Training with guy's like Kingo Mo and Rashad Evans can't be bad for your wrestling ability. Spong definitely is a warrior with a kickboxing record of 67-6 and his only 25 yrs old.