This Saturday, Glory presents Glory 15 Istanbul, featuring a stacked card of action. In the featured fights on the show, 4 men enter a one night tournament to crown a new Glory champion. Included in that tournament is the world's #1 ranked Light Heavyweight Tyrone Spong. He takes on Saulo Cavalari in the semifinals, with Gokhan Saki vs. Nathan Corbett on the other side. I had the chance to speak to Spong as he prepared for his fights in Istanbul.
One interesting potential storyline for the tournament lies in the finals. Most experts are predicting a Spong vs. Gokhan Saki final. If that happens, it will be a rematch from a 2009 K-1 fight. That time, Saki was the winner via KO in the extension round. But Spong's not letting the idea of avenging that loss color this tournament:
I'm not thinking about Saki. I was a completely different person, a complete different athlete back then. If we happen to meet here we'll see, but it's a tournament and anything can happen. But of course I want to avenge the loss, I'm a competitive fighter.
The winner of this tournament will walk out of Istanbul as the first ever Glory Light Heavyweight champion. Spong is already the unofficial uncrowned champion of the division, and has been one of the featured names for Glory as of late. It's a status he has no problems with:
People say I'm the face of Glory here in the States and I feel honored. I think I did a hell of a job putting them on the map here. I've performed, and I've put on good fights with spectacular knockouts. Everyone is starting to get into Glory and I hope they get bigger and bigger for kickboxing. I'm an ambassador for the sport and I like that position. It doesn't add any more pressure - I'm just doing my thing.
Though he's only 28 years old, Spong is already an amazing 11 year pro in kickboxing. He's fought many of the best and seen it all in kickboxing. If there anyone left that he wants to fight?
There's no one that I really want to fight. I've had so many fights and I've fought the best. I never pick and choose my opponents. There's Ernesto Hoost. He was a mentor to me so I would never fight him but he's one great I never did face. But I fought Peter Aerts, I fought Remy Bonjasky, I fought Ray Sefo, I fought Le Banner, I've fought a lot of great, great fighters.
A former trainee of the great Ernesto Hoost, Spong had some interesting thoughts on Hoost's recent unexpected return to the ring:
I was surprised but it's his decision and he thinks he's capable of doing it and he won his fight so that's a good thing. All these people have crticism and shit to talk but they never accomplished the things he did. The only thing that I wouldn't want to see is him throw away his legacy. But he's a smart guy, I know him personally and he's smart enough to make his own decision. I'll leave it all up to him and I'll support him in whatever he does.
There's no doubt that Spong is one of the world's top kickboxers. He's fought the best, establishing himself as a veteran of the sport, and one of its most decorated competitors. This weekend, he looks to add more gold to his cabinet and become the first Glory Light Heavyweight champion. And what after that? Spong's answer is simple:
If the fight is right, I'll fight whoever, wherever.
Join us here at Bloody Elbow for the Glory 15 Istanbul live stream, results, discussion, and fight coverage this Saturday, April 12.