Two powerful and tenacious light heavyweight strikers will throw down tomorrow night (Aug. 10, 2013) as Tyrone Spong battles Angel DeAnda in the main event of World Series of Fighting 4 in Ontario, California.
Spong will be competing in just his second mixed martial arts (MMA) fight overall, but that takes nothing away from his insane experience against all of the best fighters on the planet in the kickboxing realm, where he's been hailed as one of the best athletes capable of making a successful transition to the cage.
DeAnda is fighting for respect, having brawled his way up and down the California MMA circuit. He most recently knocked out former Strikeforce title challenger Anthony Ruiz and is getting impatient with Spong after having his last fight with talented kickboxer rescheduled.
Record: 1-0 overall (72-6-1 in kickboxing), 1-0 in WSOF
Key Losses: none
How he got here: Tyrone Spong got his start in the world of kickboxing in 2003, defeating everyone in his path and packing on muscle to his frame. He steadily moved up weight classes because no one could hang with him until finally reaching heavyweight.
He competed in the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix, defeating Ray Sefo to advance to the single night tournament where he drew Alistair Overeem in the opening round. After a hard-fought three rounds, he would lose a unanimous decision and was eliminated.
Undeterred, Spong has kept on rolling, knocking out the legendary Peter Aerts. "The King of the Ring" started training with the Blackzilians in America and after showcasing improvements in his ground game, he decided to take a stab at mixed martial arts, defeating Travis Bartlett in his first MMA fight.
The Dutch-Surinamese fighter added another legend to his hit list with a second round knockout of Remy Bonjasky earlier this year and most recently won three fights in one night to capture the Glory Light Heavyweight Grand Prix title.
Despite having another Glory fight booked already, he's set for his second MMA fight tomorrow night.
How he gets it done: There was never a strategy more obvious than this one. Spong needs to keep the fight standing and utilize his incredible striking advantage. He's one of the single most dangerous strikers in the world in any facet so that means he'll have a tremendous edge in this department against any MMA fighter. Distance will be key as he doesn't want to get in a dirty boxing battle or be forced into a rough-and-tumble brawl.
Catching DeAnda coming in would be ideal as his opponent is very aggressive in the stand-up department and will likely be trying to put significant pressure on from the get-go.
If he can utilize a sprawl, avoid clinches and takedowns, he's going to have plenty of opportunities to punish DeAnda. Spong will have a significant height and reach advantage over "The Dream" and while he should still clearly have the technical skill advantages with striking, he can make them even more devastating if he plays to his physical strengths as well.
Record: 11-2 overall, 0-0 in WSOF
Key Wins: Anthony Ruiz (TPF 15)
Key Losses: James Irvin (Rebel Fighter Domination)
How he got here: DeAnda began his professional career not too long ago, scoring a knockout victory to get off on the right track back in 2008. After suffering a setback in his second bout, a six fight winning streak put him in prime position for the biggest fight of his career (at the time) against UFC veteran James Irvin.
DeAnda dropped Irvin a minute into their bout and the referee even put his hands on the, but he backed off an Irvin was able to not only recover but knock out the surprised DeAnda just moments later.
"The Dream" was only motivated by the disheartening loss, however, and bounced back with four straight wins including a very impressive third round TKO against Anthony Ruiz in his last fight. The victory earned him an opportunity to compete in World Series of Fighting and he's hoping to that into a huge upset victory against Spong tomorrow night.
How he gets it done: DeAnda's job is not going to be easy. Despite primarily being a striker, he enters the fight at a significant striking disadvantage as well as being much smaller both height-wise but also reach-wise.
What he has going for him is his crazy aggression, which has allowed him to get inside of his opponents' reach and punish them throughout his career up to this point.
Look for DeAnda to try to take advantage of situations that normally wouldn't happen in a kickboxing bout. If he can get inside the clinch and start landing short strikes, the ref won't break them up like they would in Glory or K-1. Also, if he somehow knocks Spong down like Spong's first opponent at the recent Glory Grand Prix, he won't be given eight seconds to clear his head, instead having to deal with a pouncing opponent instantly.
Of course, the best case scenario for DeAnda is to try to take this fight to the ground and punish Spong with ground and pound just like he was able to finish Steve Montgomery last year. Hopefully his wrestling has improved significantly, or that'll be more wishful thinking.
Who will come out on top at WSOF 4? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!