At Lion Fight 22 this evening (Fri., May 22, 2015) Tiffany Van Soest will battle Bernise Alldis for the vacant women's featherweight title. This will be her first shot at the belt since losing it at Lion Fight 13, to Caley Reece in February of 2014.
As much as "Time Bomb" wanted a chance to redeem herself for that split-decision loss to Reece, the Australian champion retired from the sport and vacated the title, ending any opportunity for a rematch.
"She had a very, very long and successful career and she wants to start a family and she felt like it was time to hang it up," Van Soest told MMAMania recently, after completing her open workout at a Harley Davidson dealership. "As much as I really wanted that rematch as a fighter, as a woman and as a friend of hers, I have nothing but respect for her decision. It's something that will always be in the back of my mind."
Van Soest, 26, was in a playful mood and cracking jokes that she was picking out a Harley for Lion Fight president Scott Kent to buy for her. She's laid back during conversation, but in the ring she can be as nasty as they come. The 11-2-1 fighter likes to throw down, as evidenced by the quick turn around from her last fight that was less than two months ago.
"As long as the body is able and the mind is willing I am down to fight," she said, before mentioning it doesn't take a title fight to get her excited about a fight.
"I'm just motivated to get in the ring and put on a better performance that the last one," she said. It doesn't take a belt to motivate me, but it's a nice accessory and I like accessories."
Van Soest's opponent, Alldis, was a UK champion in muay thai before taking a hiatus due to having a baby and is one of the few women who have defeated "The Queen of Muay Thai," Julie Kitchen.
"She is more traditional style and she is very technical," Van Soest said. "I'm looking forward to a nice clean fight because my last opponent was kind of all over the place. I think it will be more a human chess match I think."
For her last training camp, Van Soest worked with Duke Roufus, in addition to her long-time trainer, Kru Alexander Palma. She mentioned getting back to some of her karate roots with Roufus, and in her unanimous decision victory over Chajmaa Bellakhal she looked outstanding.
"I definitely felt relaxed," said Van Soest, who will have Roufus in her corner along with Palma. "I felt like everything was just flowing. I went off of my instincts and my training. That just took over and I focused on staying relaxed, being aware of my surroundings and looking for my openings."
The combination of Roufus and Palmer has her feeling like she has the best of both worlds, saying, "Between those two and the strategy we've come up with, I'm really feeling confident."
There were was a noticeable increase of new fans and combat sports media that tuned in to see her last fight against Bellakhal at Lion Fight 21, and her profile on social media has also grown considerably. Van Soest thinks its great for her and the sport of muay thai, which she referred to as "beautiful."
"I"m glad that the sport I'm passionate about, the art I'm passionate about, is finally starting to get a little bit more recognition," she said. "Hopefully I can just use that momentum to keep doing that and to keep helping the sport grow."
The conversation ended on a non-fighting topic: surfing. Van Soest is an avid surfer, and said she "caught a couple of waves" earlier this week, but couldn't stay out as long as she wanted to due to her training. But, surfing, to her, seems to restore balance to a busy life of training and fighting.
"Surfing is my time to forget everything. I sit with my thoughts and visualize, but for the most part my head is clear and I'm just focused on surfing. Everything else in my life relates to fighting, whether it be business pursuits, or training, or recovery, it's all related to fighting.
"As much as I love that I still need my down time, so, when I'm surfing it's just me and the ocean. It's the time to power down and clear my head and when I walk back onto the beach I feel very refreshed, and kind of like I'm just waking up as opposed to just being out of the water. It's a nice time to relax and reset my brain and have some me time."
Lion Fight 22 takes place tonight at the Outdoor Amphitheater at Sunset Station in Las Vegas. The main card will be airing live on AXSTV at 10 PM ET.