We sat down with the Super Bantamweight Champion of the World Tiffany van Soest. The Queen of GLORY defeated the champion of RISE through a masterclass in kickboxing. We spoke about her last performance, GLORY highlights and the future.
At GLORY 80, you fought the first GLORY Rivals fight in history against RISE champion Manazo Kobayashi. What went through your mind when you heard that you had to fight another champion?
I thought it was a great opportunity and I thought that the idea of champion versus champion, from different organizations, would bring a lot more hype and excitement to the fight. I mean every title defense is an occasion but with me being the representative of GLORY and her being the representative of RISE, I think it added a little more excitement and value to the fight.
How do you look back on the fight?
To have a good fight, you got to have good fighters, obviously. But I think that fight was something special because I was able to showcase new techniques. And the fact that she had a fighter’s heart also, no matter when she got knocked down or got hurt, she still stood up. I think those two components together made a very exciting fight.
Did you expect the fight to go this way?
No, I expected to win and my goal was to win with a finish, but I didn't expect to win with 4 knockdowns. The spinning back kick at the end was like a cherry on top so that was really cool and I'm really proud of that.
Was that spinning back kick something you've been practicing, or did it just come to you at that moment?
If you look at most of my fights, I always throw the spinning back kick. It's a tool that I have in my toolbox that I use, and I use it well. So, I was practicing it a lot in my training camp because it is one of my strong weapons and it was just the right time and the right place during that fight. After the last exchange, the referee broke us and I knew it was the moment, because there was only a short time left in the fight. Based on how she was fighting for the rest of the fight she was going to come forward, because she was just going to leave it all out, no matter what. I can throw it on offense or defense but it’s always a little bit easier when you know the opponent is coming in closer and walking into it. I knew it was like the dying minute of the fight or of that round, I kind of expected her to come forward and when you eat it, you know it’s going to be over.
After the fight, there was mutual respect. What did you say to an emotional Manazo Kobayashi at that moment?
I told her thank you very much for the fight. When I saw her again backstage with her translator and coach, they told me it was the first time she had really lost like that and I told her: “You're going to be better from this. Every champion falls and every champion has to rise again.” And I added: “This fight is going to make you want to be better.”
Where does this fight rank in your list of the best moments in your career?
It's one of my top moments in my career because of the way everything went. The fact that the rest of the show got cancelled because of what happened in the crowd, it was like I became the main event and I became the fight of the night. So, that was something really really special for me. Also, it's definitely a moment in my career that I won't forget. To win such a big fight in such a spectacular way, with the four knockdowns and the very last one being something spinning you know, it was just like everything came together and lined up for that moment to happen.
Another special moment in your career was your tournament participation at COLLISION I. What was it like winning the title in a packed stadium?
That was big! It was crazy because there were so many first times for me on that night. It was the first time I ever fought in front of a crowd that big, it was for the first ever women title in GLORY, and it was the first time fighting in a tournament. There was a lot of pressure and a lot of new things to deal with. I knew it was a really big opportunity in my life and my career. It was something that I had always dreamt of doing and something that I've always wanted. From the time I was a little girl, I would always imagine myself in front of a big crowd winning something, whether it was in football or karate or something. It was very much like my childhood dreams were. When I walked out for the first fight and just looked up and saw how many people were there, I could just feel the energy from the crowd. When I won the second fight and my hand was raised and I knew that I had won the first ever GLORY women's world title, that was really special.
What thoughts went through your mind when your hand was raised?
I think the emotion that comes out is just all the sacrifice that you put in leading up to get to that moment. Sometimes when we're happy, we cry. It's just so many different emotions and they don't know how to be expressed. It comes out in smiles and laughter and tears. It was a combination of everything. In that moment, I felt like I was standing on top of a mountain that it took me years and years and years to climb.
Your GLORY debut against Esma Hasshass has been viewed millions of times online and the famous punch has also been transformed into a GLORY Smacks collectable. Do you remember how this blow went?
It was the steps through right hand that dropped her, and I remember practicing it in the dressing room before the fight. We knew we were going to use it. I just remember when I threw it. I remember feeling like I missed, but it was because it went through her instead. Then she was on the ground, but when I stepped through and threw the punch there was a moment where I was like ‘oh s*** I missed’. But they say that when you hit that perfect knockout punch, it just feels like nothing. It feels like if you throw a punch into water or something, it just kind of goes through.
Would you describe your battle with Anissa Meksen as a rivalry?
I would say so. I think it's one of the greatest rivalries in woman kickboxing’s history. Because of her record, accolades, ability, and skills, she's definitely one of the best women to ever put kickboxing gloves on. The fact that all our fights were so close. Maybe the third one wasn't as close, but the first two are just showing the level we were at. I think for the sport as a whole, it set a standard like “Hey, if you want to be considered the best in the world, this is what that looks like. This is what that level is.” I mean that's a fight or a matchup that you would see in the Olympics for the gold medal. That’s the top of the top, so I think that's definitely a rivalry.
What can you tell us about your third fight against Anissa Meksen?
That one was important too, because I was so proud of being the GLORY champion and then I lost it. And then to have another chance at the person who took it from me, who beat me, and then to come up really short again, was very bad. I didn't feel good but I knw what I'm capable of and it was just a matter of making adjustments. Winning the third fight made me feel really proud and happy for sticking to the discipline, the perseverance and the self-belief, because some fighters will lose to the same person twice and just be like “maybe they're better than me, that's that”. But that wasn't the case. It was just a matter of changing the things I needed to change into myself and changing some things in my environment. When I did that, the results spoke for themselves, so I was finally able to get the title back.
Who were the fighters you used to look up to?
It just depends on what time I was in or who I was watching more, but I've always been really into MMA so I would watch MMA fighters. All the MMA fighters that were kickboxers or had kickboxing style were my favorite, like Jose Aldo or Anderson Silva. Just because he was creative, he didn't fight like everybody else. In actual kickboxing I did like a lot of the old school guys like Spong. You know, from that golden era time. I used to watch some Ramon Dekkers as well. I didn't have a fighter who was my favorite. Each fighter had a certain aspect of their game that I really liked.
Are you a person who likes to watch the fights of other GLORY fighters? Or are you mainly focused on doing your own thing in the ring?
If there's fighters or fights that are extremely technical or they're great fighters, I'm into it, for sure. But some of the fights I watch are like ‘okay, I'm not really impressed.’ I just have an appreciation and a taste for really high level, really technical fights between fighters who know what they're doing, who aren't just going out there and just swinging their arms all crazy praying that they connect. I like fighters with high IQ's and that execute with really good technical ability.
What’s the best KO you’ve ever seen?
Did you see what I did two weeks ago? That's one of my favorites! It wasn't a clean KO and that's one thing I like. I'm always looking to improve on every performance because you're only as good as your last performance. Because she had the heart in the resiliency to keep getting up, there is a couple of times I'm like ‘maybe I'm not hitting hard enough.’ So now the goal is to finish fights so that they don't get up.
What's the next challenge for the Time Bomb?
What I showed up two weeks ago in the ring was just the beginning of a new chapter in my career, because I've been training with Lucien Carbin for about six months now. The two fights that I trained with him before, I was only with him for a training camp, so for three or four weeks the first time, and five weeks the second time. If you combine the two fights, we only trained together for eight weeks, and I already noticed that much improvement. Then rewind back to two weeks ago, to what I was able to do after training with him for six months, it was kind of like ‘Alright, finally this is what now we're getting started with, what I'm able to do with him as my trainer.’ So I think the future is very bright. We're just going to continue with this momentum and keep working and improving on the things that I'm working on in the gym. Then hopefully that leads to those lights out finishes.
This time, a champion came from Japan to the Netherlands. Would you also like to travel to Japan to fight someone there?
Yes, definitely! It's always been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to have a fight in Japan. I think just growing up doing karate, doing Japanese style of karate since I was little, Japan and its culture have always had a special place in my heart. And as a fighter, you have to go fight in Japan. I mean the old New Year's Eve K-1 shows there were huge! It’s every fighter’s dream to fight on one of those shows. I think it would be really cool to have a fight in Japan and cross that off bucket list.
What would you like to say to GLORY fans?
Thank you for the continued support and for everybody who's been with me from the beginning. Welcome to all the new fans. I hope they enjoyed what I've done and they're looking forward to seeing what I will do in the future.