Tyrone Spong is a name that every kickboxing fan already knows. The multi-time Muay Thai champion and (former?) K-1 fighter is one of the most accomplished kickboxers in the world. He's also begun testing the waters in MMA, training with Rashad Evans at the team at Imperial MMA full time in the past year. Matthew Roth of MMA Nation caught up with Spong at UFC 136, and got some great information on his future in MMA and K-1.
First up, the big news for K-1 fans - Spong makes it clear that, while he is currently scheduled to fight in the K-1 Grand Prix Final 16 later this month, that won't happen unless he gets paid the money he is still owed from last year's GP:
As of now, nothing is sure. K-1 still has to pay me and other fighters too, so if that happens...
This is potentially a crippling blow for the prospects of a 2011 K-1 Grand Prix. It's not just that losing Spong would be devastating (although, given the diminished field this year, his loss would absolutely further weaken the tournament). The greater issue is that Spong is managed by Simon Rutz and It's Showtime, the business partners to K-1 in this event. If Spong has not been paid and pulls out, then chances are good other It's Showtime fighters also have not been paid and could pull out. That would include tournament favorite Badr Hari, along with numerous other participants. Without these fighters, the Grand Prix is sunk.
So with K-1 dying a slow death, is Spong planning a move to MMA?
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 Lawal 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.
It certainly would appear that Spong could be headed to an MMA cage soon. If he can focus his work with Rashad and his team on developing a decent ground game to compliment those superb striking skills, then Tyrone Spong could very easily make some serious noise in a place like Bellator or the UFC. He's definitely a fighter to watch out for.
The full interview also has Spong's thoughts on Badr Hari making the move to boxing, and his love for dogs. Watch the interview in its entirety in the complete entry.