Tyrone Spong made his professional MMA debut in the light heavyweight division last night against Travis Bartlett, a veteran of nine bouts in the opening fight of the World Series of Fighting 1 main card from Las Vegas, Nevada.
And it wasn't even close.
Despite Bartlett having seven career MMA victories under his belt and over 90 boxing fights, he was no match for "The King of the Ring" Spong, a kickboxer who has been training in the striking arts for well over 10 years at an elite level and is still in his physical prime.
Spong opened cautiously, working his kicks to the body and legs which seemed to fluster Bartlett. Once he loosened up, Spong started throwing heavy head kicks and didn't give up when the first one was partially blocked. His second attack sent Bartlett tumbling to the canvas, but he didn't want to mess around with him on the ground after realizing Bartlett still had his wits about him.
After backing off, Bartlett popped back to his feet but he probably would have been better off butt-scooting for the rest of the fight. Spong repeatedly utilized his footwork to back Bartlett into the fence and then unload with strikes after taking away his escape routes.
Spong then began taking Bartlett's legs out from under him with heavy leg kicks as Spong tried to counter with his lead right hand, but it had nothing on it to scare the Blackzilian.
Finally, Spong turned it on, throwing his right hand with power. After scoring with a left to the body, Spong blasted Bartlett with a walk-off right hand which again sent him to the ground. This time he didn't get up and the fight was stopped.
For Travis Bartlett, he fought like a guy who hadn't stepped into a cage in over two years. He was out of shape and didn't present any danger to Spong whatsoever. He had to know how good Spong was standing up, but for some reason, he never attempted a takedown even once. He didn't have even close to a chance of winning that fight. Anything would have been better than what he did, which was standing at a distance and refusing to clinch or try to take the fight to the ground.
For Tyrone Spong, this was exactly what World Series of Fighting was hoping, a showcase fight. He looked sharp with his stand-up and picked Bartlett apart like a surgeon. We didn't get to see anything we didn't already know, however as he was never clinched, never had to stuff a takedown and never even went to the ground when he had his opponent in big trouble from the head kick. It was a solid showing but we'll have to wait another fight if we want any answers to the rest of his game.