Remy Bonjasky has more than earned his keep in the world of professional kickboxing.
"The Flying Gentleman" has 40 knockouts in his career which began back in 1995 with a second round knockout of Valentijn Overeem.
Despite not being filled out physically like most of his peers, Bonjasky would go on to become one of the most renowned super heavyweight kickboxers of all time, winning the K-1 Grand Prix Tournament three times in his stories career.
Many thought he was done for good when Bonjasky called it quits in 2009 after suffering a very serious health scare which required eye surgery, but with the debut of the Glory kickboxing promotion, he was called back to action after three years away from the sport.
Bonjasky's return hasn't gone quite as he would have liked with a close decision over Anderson Silva and a rather uninspired performance at the Glory 16 man Grand Prix on New Year's Eve in Japan. He'll have an opportunity to silence any whispers about whether he can still hang with the best in the world in two weeks (March 23, 2013) when the Surinamese-Dutch fighter takes on top-ranked kickboxing prospect Tyrone Spong in the main event of Glory 5 in London.
The three-time world champion spoke to MMAmania.com about the loss of kickboxing icon Ramon Dekkers, what he'd like to accomplish in his return and his concerns about Tyrone Spong's growth into the heavyweight division in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The kickboxing community lost an icon recently in Ramon Dekkers. Did you have any thoughts on his unfortunate passing?
Remy Bonjasky: He was one of the top stars in the fighting scene so it was a big blow to us all. Looking at his record and all his fights, he was one of the top fighters and also, if you look at his weight class, he was one of the first Dutch fighters who began beating the Thai guys. I was very sad that he passed away.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Did you have any good interactions with him as you progressed along your career and became a bit of a kickboxing legend yourself?
Remy Bonjasky: Yeah, when I was young I was looking at his fights and his tape and who he was fighting. He inspired me. When you saw him fighting, you wanted to run into the gym and start training. He was one of the people that it meant something when they were fighting. When you saw him on the poster that he was going to be fighting, you for sure were going to buy a ticket to that event. It's very sad that we lost him at such a young age.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Well let's switch gears a bit. You're coming off the 16-man Grand Prix where you went 1-1, losing in the quarterfinals. Considering your more patient style, did you feel like you were at a disadvantage early on with the two-minute format and the inability to come back if you lost the first two rounds?
Remy Bonjasky: Yeah, after you lost two rounds, you could not come back. You already lost. In my opinion, it's not the best system for me. That system is built for people that want to get strong in the first two rounds and only have enough energy for the first or maybe the second round. For me, I'm a slow starter. In the first round I try to look at what's happening, observe, and in the middle of the second round I will start working but at the Grand Prix, by that point the fight is almost over. For me, the system was not the best and it will take some time to adapt.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Did it sting a little extra that you were eliminated by Jamal Ben Saddik, a younger fighter who had called you out when you first came out of retirement last year?
Remy Bonjasky: (laughs) Well these guys are young and sometimes they don't know what they're saying. I'm not the type that's like that. Losing is a part of the game, we all lose in this sport so losing to a guy like that doesn't affect me. He's a youngster. He's new in this game. If he wants to make a name off of me, then make your name. I know what I've done. I know what I've achieved and I don't think he will achieve that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've read that you feel you're at your best when you're not in a great mood or people doubt you. Can you talk about this place you go to mentally in the weeks leading up to a fight?
Remy Bonjasky: Well what I feel now is I feel like I'm the underdog and I feel like I'm better the more people tell me I'm not going to win. People never thought I'd win the K-1 Grand Prix once and I won it three times. They never thought I'd win against Ernesto Hoost or any other big fighters. That's what makes me stronger in everything I do. It makes me train more and even harder. Even though I was a three time champion, still people think I'm the underdog. That's good for me.
Remy Bonjasky: Yeah yeah. I'm gonna prove to people that even though I'm the underdog, I'll fight like I'm the one they thought would win all along.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel like you need a big win over someone like Spong to make this return from retirement a success?
Remy Bonjasky: Yeah because I fought the first fight against Anderson Silva and it wasn't the best fight since I was recovering from injury. And then I fought in the tournament and didn't have my best fight either. But this fight, fighting one big fight against a top opponent would be perfect for me with my comeback.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I read something interesting from one of your recent interviews where you mentioned Tyrone Spong growing into the heavyweight division and his "special diet." It seemed like a not-so-subtle insult towards how he got as big as he did. Can you expand on that?
Remy Bonjasky: I don't know what they eat. I don't know what they train but the only thing I know is when I was 17-18 years old, I was already 90 kilos. I'm talking about myself, I'm proven natural. I don't know what these guys are eating or what these guys are using but you see some went from 80-90 kilos and you see them after six months they're 110 and that's not natural. That's what I think. That's what I believe. That's not natural. Something has been done for him to make him that heavy and that big. He's not a real natural heavyweight. If he wants to do that to his body, then let him do it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you think him not being a natural heavyweight will be an advantage for you since you've been fighting at the same weight for practically you're entire career?
Remy Bonjasky: All my life I've been a natural heavyweight. All my life I've fought at 105 kilos. I'm a natural heavyweight so I think he has to adapt to my weight and being in this weight he will not be as comfortable as me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Before accepting this fight against you, Spong fought in mixed martial arts for the World Series of Fighting promotion. What do you think about him also competing in MMA and how it could affect his performance in kickboxing?
Remy Bonjasky: I've seen the fight but it wasn't really an interesting fight because he was fighting an opponent that, I don't know this guy. He didn't look like he wanted to fight. Again, I don't have much of an opinion on that fight because it wasn't really a fight. I look at that fight and I think anyone would take that fight. Look at all the top fighters, even not MMA fighters. Any kickboxer could have taken that fight because the guy didn't even want to fight. It wasn't a real fight. Anybody could win that fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So do you think your experience in the tournament against elite kickboxers will be better preparation for you compared to his MMA fight?
Remy Bonjasky: Maybe, but he's been more active than me. He didn't stop training, didn't stop fighting like I did for three years from 2009-2012 so that could be to his advantage. But looking at my experience, I'm still confident.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I'd also like to talk about your goals. In coming back from retirement, do you still have that same fire, the same desire to be a world champion? A victory over Spong would propel you into the Glory heavyweight title picture.
Remy Bonjasky: Yeah, fighting now for the title again, the Grand Prix, it's a long way to go. I have to be focused first on Tyrone, beating Tyrone and then the next step but I think if I defeat him, people will really see me as having come back. If I don't win this fight, it won't be good for me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're picturing this fight in your mind, how do you see it playing out?
Remy Bonjasky: I think it's going to be a fantastic fight. He wants to win, I want to win and I don't think it will last the whole three rounds. It's gonna be a war.
Remy would like to thank his trainer who's been with him for a long time, his sponsors who have been helping him out all these years. You can follow Remy on Twitter @RKBonjasky.