Tyrone Spong hasn't fought in six months. His body is well rested, but his heart and mind have been greatly effected by the death of both his uncle and one of his close friends, Tarik El Idrissi. Their passing has made him focus more on the important things in life like spending time with loved ones and family.
"The King of the Ring" was a guest on Darce Side Radio recently and he explained how the two deaths have weighed on him emotionally.
"I must say that I had a rough period and I still do," Spong said. "It's part of life and the way things happen. It makes me really sad, but like I said it's part of life but my uncle and my good friend -- my training partner from day one -- would've wanted me to do good and to perform. They were very proud of me. That's where I am trying to find some strength. Other than that, I am really enjoying my kids. Spending time with them and just small things that mean a lot to me. Life is short, so you have to do as much as you can with the people that you love and that you are close to."
Now 5-0 in GLORY, Spong wasn't thinking about passing up the upcoming GLORY 15 tournament for the inaugural light heavyweight title, saying, "I will not easily cancel a fight. I'm here. I'm healthy and I'm ready to go."
To win the tournament, Spong will have to win twice. He faces Saulo Cavalari in the opening round and should he prevail, he would face the winner of Gokhan Saki vs. Nathan Corbett. Spong recently knocked out Corbett back at GLORY 11 Chicago. Facing Saki -- who is a native Turk and hometown hero -- in the final, would not only have fans salivating, but it would give him the chance to atone for a knockout loss from K-1 in 2009.
"I always want to avenge if I have a loss," the Dutch-Surinamese fighter explains. "That was a different time. I was a different athlete a different person back then. So was he. He got much better. If I meet him, then we will see from there."
Before that fight can take place, Spong will have his hands full with Brazilian phenom Saulo Cavalari, a young up and comer who has yet to taste defeat under the GLORY banner.
Spong is very aware the young fighter will be champing at the bit to score an upset on Saturday night.
"This is the biggest fight of his career going up against me and that he is very motivated," Spong said. "I respect the guy. Really strong guy... Probably a great future ahead of him. Strong, physically very strong. I'm just looking forward. I'm just ready to fight. I don't give a fuck."
The last and cavalier phrase of that quote is definitely very Spongesque. He is always willing to fight, doesn't matter if it's Cavalari, Saki or a bear, he just wants to get in there and do what he loves to do.
"When I need to fight I'm just happy," he admits. "I just get amped up because it's a fight. My adrenaline and everything. I'm just excited. I love fighting. Even if I had to do arm wrestling I would be excited."
While we probably won't be seeing Spong on Game of Arms -- the new arm wrestling TV show -- it's safe to say that he would just jump in there and do it. In regards to his stance on the tournament, that frame of mind is fairly similar. Sure he has to prepare himself, but many fighters prepare and focus on each fighter of the tournament. Some fight differently in the first fight, because they may fight another fight.
The veteran of over 100 fights "doesn't believe in preparing for opponents," he said, before elaborating on his thought process.
"You keep certain things in mind, but what are you going to do if a guy fucking hits you in your face?" Spong asked rhetorically. "What, you going to think about, I'm not going to hit the guy because I have another fight or whatever?A fight is a fight. Once you are in a fight, it's a fight and everything stands or falls with that fight. So, once you are in it, you are in it. You have to do what you have to do."
Should he win the inaugural GLORY light heavyweight title, Spong's popularity would increase exponentially. Being the "Bo Jackson" of combat sports, as he has been called, due to also competing in MMA and teasing at future fights in boxing, the "King of the Ring" feels "blessed" to have the admiration from his fans, especially in the U.S."
"It was just a chance that I took three years ago when I just said "fuck it I'm moving,"he said. "I'm coming down to Florida." I could never have this in mind that I would become a popular fighter in the States. It all went very fast, very rapid and I'm just happy. I just want to thank all the fans that support me and follow me and cheer me on when I'm fighting. Thank you guys. I have a big fan base. It just feels good that I get that recognition here in the states. I came here like I said, three years ago people knew me a little bit but not like how they know me now. Now if I walk in to Walmart or whatever people recognize me and it feels good. You feel appreciated. Also, I'm one of the pioneers here for kickboxing in the states and ambassadors and that I'm doing so good with the numbers and everything, I just feel very privileged and very blessed."
The 28-year-old fighter will no doubt be fighting with a heavy heart on Saturday night, but he ended the interview showing that he still has his sense of humor by telling the accounts of a recent and hilarious training story.
"A while ago there was somebody visiting and he wanted to train with us really bad, but the coaches were like 'I don't know' but he was a professional fighter, okay," Spong said. "So, he came and I gave him a body shot and we smelt something funny and I think he shit his pants.
*MMAmania will be on location in Istanbul, Turkey this week for GLORY 15. Keep it locked for up to date news and interviews. Follow @Michael_Stets on Twitter and @MichaelStets on Instagram for quotes and photos from fight week.