Tiffany van Soest is going out with a bang.
The Torrance, California-born “Time Bomb” has established herself as one of the more exciting and memorable female kickboxers in the sport throughout her 33-fight run (25-6-2). Despite still being at the top of her game as the Glory Super Bantamweight champion, van Soest, 34, always knew what her time limit would be.
Van Soest competes in a rematch against Sarah Moussaddak at Glory 88 in Paris, France this weekend (Sat., Sept. 9, 2023). Turning 35 in March 2024, van Soest highlights that as her magic number, making Moussaddak the final opponent of her career.
“There is a lot of pressure in the fact that it is my last fight and the expectations that I put on myself to go out on top and to go out with a win,” van Soest told MMA Mania. “Even more so because I know I’m fighting Sarah in her home country, she’s also Moroccan and it’s gonna be in front of a Moroccan crowd because Badr Hari is the main event. The company knows I’m leaving. So, there’s even more pressure on me to not just win — because I know even if it’s close they’ll probably just give it to her since I’m on my way out anyway.
“The pressure’s on me not just to win but absolutely dominate or to finish the fight,” she continued. “Luckily, for whatever reason, I seem to always do well under pressure and I like to say pressure makes diamonds. I get beat up in the gym but when the lights are on and it’s time to shine, something inside me turns on and I do my thing.”
While kickboxing has been the primary focus of van Soest’s combat sports career, she also dabbled in Muay Thai and mixed martial arts (MMA) along the way.
The striking arts were most captivating to van Soest, who has a love-hate relationship with grappling. Her first MMA fight took place in China in 2011 when she suffered a first round triangle choke defeat to Jin Tang. “Time Bomb” didn’t return to the cage until 2016 when she had become a notable name in kickboxing and Muay Thai. At the time, it felt like the more lucrative option but just didn’t work out.
“It seemed like the way I needed to go if I wanted to make a full-time career out of fighting,” van Soest said. “At the same time, I had won the title with Glory and so being established in striking and having a name already then going back to the bottom of the barrel of MMA ... I lost money on my first camp (laughs). Beating up my body to that degree and potentially risking injury, not being able to fight in kickboxing, where I was already quite established, it just made more sense to continue with kickboxing until the right deal or right fight came about for MMA.
“Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case then I just decided I wanted to stay on my feet because this is where I make my money,” she continued. “This is where I’m established. Not to say I was trying to jump the line as far as MMA goes, but it just logically and financially — I had to do what was smart.”
As compelling as it may have been to see van Soest stick with MMA, everything worked out for the best as she has the opportunity to end her fight career on a five-fight winning streak and shut up some doubters. The first Moussaddak fight was van Soest's last, coming in October 2022 via a unanimous decision.
Reactions to the result were mixed from the community, but “TVS” had no doubt she put on a rightful victory-earning performance. To close this chapter of her life out, the champion looks to paint another masterpiece, using Moussaddak’s face as her canvas.
“Me personally, as a martial artist, an artist, I like to test myself for each fight and it’s not really so much about my opponent and what they’re doing,” van Soest said. “It’s about my development as a fighter and learning different styles and tricks.
“In our first fight, I wanted a boxing match, I wanted to box her,” she continued. “After our first couple of exchanges, I felt her aggression and I’m like, ‘Okay, I can box her all day.’ So, I put on a defensive masterclass. She came at me with her young, angry aggression as a challenger would. I showed her I wasn’t phased at all.
“I fought her in one style the last time we fought and this time I’ll fight her in a new style, what we’ve been working on,” van Soest concluded.