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    Tyrone Spong sees ‘durable’ Sergei Kharitonov as a challenge


    Tyrone Spong is looking forward to the challenge of resuming his MMA career.

    Boasting an array of accolades in both the kickboxing and boxing world, Spong (2-0) will return to MMA for the first time since 2013 when he faces Sergei Kharitonov (33-9-2) in the main event of Eagle FC 44, which takes place Jan. 28 at FLXcast Arena in Miami and streams live on the FLXcast app.

    In 2014, Spong snapped his shin in a kickboxing bout against Gokhan Saki for the inaugural GLORY light heavyweight title. Saki checked a Spong kick, which fractured Spong’s lower right leg and ended the fight via TKO. Despite the gruesome injury, Spong says his fighting future was never in question.

    “No, I never retired from combat sports, even when I had the injury,” Spong told MMA Junkie Radio. “I just had my recovery time. I think I did it pretty fast, you know? And then I started competing in boxing, and that was just because the all for that glory came back to me. It was not something that I was interested in.

    “Then I focused on boxing, became champion in boxing, regional champion. I won the WBO and the WBC titles, and then COVID happened, and this opportunity came about. I mean I’m good friends with (Eagle FC founder) Khabib (Nurmagomedov) and obviously Ali (Abdelaziz) is doing my management and business side, so this opportunity came. They’re going to make their U.S. debut with their fight promotion.”

    He meets Bellator heavyweight Kharitonov, who’s also competed in kickboxing and has vast MMA experience. The 41-year-old Russian holds notable wins over Fabricio Werdum, Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem, so Spong knows he’s in for a tough battle.

    “I think it is a good fight,” Spong said. “You know, it’s a challenge. I don’t even know when my last MMA fight was, but it’s a while ago, and then to come back against a guy like Kharitonov who’s very durable, big guy? So that’s something that is a challenge to me. He doesn’t give up, he doesn’t get put away easily. So that’s a challenge to me, and the size difference, you know?”

    Will the Kharitonov fight be a one-and-done MMA bout for Spong? The “King of the Ring” says that’ll depend on his performance and the opportunities that stem from it.

    We’ll see how it goes,” Spong said. “I take it step by step. This is a big challenge. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m very competitive, so I want to compete and prove myself, right? Put on a great performance and go from there. I’ll leave that side up to Ali to figure out what’s next for me, best for me. Not only goal-wise, but financial, everything – it has to make sense for me at this time. I’ve been fighting for over two decades, so the right fights, the right disciplines, but to me, myself, it doesn’t really matter. I just like to compete. I like to fight, and that’s what I want to do.”

    To see the full interview with Spong, check out the video below.

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