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Lion Fight's Tiffany van Soest says 'it's only a matter of time' until she breaks into the mainstream

Tiffany van Soest goes after her second title on Friday night (Jan. 29, 2016) when she takes on Ashley Nichols at Lion Fight 27 for the super bantamweight title. "Time Bomb" spoke to about her upcoming fight and signing on with the EPOK Agency to advance her career outside of the ring.

van Soest (R) gets ready to deliver a left hand
van Soest (R) gets ready to deliver a left hand
Lion Fight/Bennie Palmore

If you follow the muay thai promotion Lion Fight, then chances are you know who Tiffany van Soest (15-2-1) is. If you don't, then you've been missing the rise of one of the most talented female fighters in all of combat sports, who isn't quite satisfied with her current presence inside the realm of the fight game.

"No, there is a still a lot more that can be done and a lot more people who can and will know who I am," van Soest told "It's only a matter of time."

Van Soest, 26, has taken a major step recently to broaden her exposure outside of of the ring and also to bring in additional revenue streams by signing with Ajay Chander and the EPOK Agency. "Time Bomb" credits UFC welterweight Alan Jouban for the initial push to sign on with EPOK.

"Alan and I have trained together in the past at Blackhouse, when I was living up there in LA. And just in passing he would make mention of his manager. He mentioned one time, ‘my agency would probably be a really good fit for you.' I thought, ‘oh yeah, that would be cool.' I knew timing would be everything. So when it got to a point where I was like, ‘I can't do all of this on my own anymore I need a management team.' Then it started to come down to, okay there are so many fight managers out there, but I don't want to known as just a fighter.

"I've put too much into this. I'm a brand. Who is going to market me? Who is going to help my career grow the most on both sides of the fence? Like, in the ring and on the outside. Where am I going to get the most opportunity, the most bang for my buck essentially? After being friends with Alan and knowing him and how his career his going it seemed like EPOK was a good fit. After contacting Ajay and speaking with him, we both have a lot of the same goals and are envisioning a lot of the same things. It was a good team up."

Chander already has a photo shoot booked for van Soest to get the ball rolling on her career outside of the ring, but fighting is still the number one priority, she says. However, she is definitely looking forward to the challenge of being outside of her element.

"You know what I'm kind of shy when it comes to that kind of stuff because it's obviously not what my natural ability is and it's new," she said. "But, that's what makes it cool because it is different and new. Like anything else it's going to take a lot of practice. It's something I can look forward to doing and something I will be able to fall back on when I don't want to fight any more. Fighting is always the number one priority."

And she won't be worried about getting her face marked up either.

"I know if my face gets messed up than I probably didn't do a good enough job keeping my hands up. It might add some type of dark artistry or edge to it or something," she joked.

The California native has been dominant and has only tasted defeat twice in 18 career fights. At Lion Fight 22 she defeated Bernice Aldis for the featherweight title, splitting her opponent's face wide open with a vicious elbow during the bout to regain the title she lost to Caley Reece by a heart breaking split decision only a few months prior. She successfully defended it against Martyna Kroll in her last fight at Lion Fight 23, winning by unanimous decision.

On Friday night (Jan. 29, 2016) at Lion Fight 27 "Time Bomb" will be fighting Ashley Nichols for a chance at a second championship: the Lion Fight super bantamweight title.

Van Soest was complimentary of Nichols and expects her to be a formidable challenge on Friday night at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif.

"She has won some medals in Thailand," said van Soest, who has worked with Carl Gebhardt from Team Nogueira out of Blackhouse Gym for this fight camp. "She has some MMA and pro boxing experience as well. We are expecting a well-rounded fighter. She comes from a traditional camp. Being the champ, of course, I expect to get everyone at their best. And I expect nothing less because of the work that I put in if someone is fighting me they should be putting in the work too. And Ashley seems like the type of opponent who is doing that. I feel with the drop in weight and her fighting experience and skills and mine it's going to be a really, really good fight. We are both really fast. I just feel I'm going to be stronger and better."

The fight against Nichols is at 120 pounds, which is five less than what she is used to fighting at, but states the weight cut is "not too much of a stretch or challenge" for her. "I usually walk around between 130-135 when I'm behaving myself," she laughed.

In addition to working with Gebhardt for this camp, she's also sparred with former UFC and current Invicta strawweight Angela Hill, who has faced Nichols in muay thai competition. "That has been helpful," she stated.

An avid surfer when she is not competing, van Soest said she hasn't gone into the ocean much since the water hasn't been that warm.

"I'm a sissy and I hate wearing a wet suit, but the waves have been good the last few days and the sun has been out so it hasn't been too terrible and miserable," van Soest said. "I'm really tempted. I think I might just jump in the ocean because I need it for my sanity, my salt water therapy. Even if it's just a polar bear dip to refresh myself."

The Lion Fight featherweight champion revealed she is relocating to Bali in Indonesia after her fight on Friday night. She had spent three months there recently and fell in love with it on top of scoring a great opportunity that she couldn't pass up: Training and teaching at Bali Muay Thai and MMA. A gym owned by New York brothers and MMA veterans Andrew and Anthony Leone.

"I'm able to train there, surf and I'll be teaching classes there," she said. "That's all I do here in San Diego is surf, train and teach and I'll have the opportunity to do it in a tropical paradise where it's warm all the time, the waves are a world class. I can focus on all the same things, save a lot more money, and just be in a place where... I don't know man, Southern California and San Diego are not bad at all, but Bali is Bali. They say don't talk about heaven if you've never been to Bali. I'll still be coming back to the states for training camps and stuff and work, but yeah, it will be a new adventure, something new, something different."

So, she is fighting at 120 this week, which is only five pounds over the women's strawweight division in MMA and relocating to a gym offering MMA. Not to mention, this fight against Nichols is her last fight on her current contract. She's taken some heat for discussing her desire to compete in MMA before, but it is still a very strong possibility she could go that route.

Van Soest wasn't going to go there though and said, "I really like surfing," and laughed to halt the conversation from heading in that direction.

She is looking forward to facing Nichols on Friday and the new challenges that await her overseas in Bali, and mentioned her father as the one who gave her key advice to make the move.

"I always talk to my dad when it comes to making decisions and he said, 'you can always come home.' It was so simple. That is the same advice I would've given to someone else. You can always come home. Go for it so you don't wonder 'what if' for the rest of your life. I'm really looking forward to the fight and to the next few months and years."

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