ONTARIO, Calif. -- The stage was set for Tyrone Spong, the man who wishes to be combat sport's most respected athlete.
Fighting unheralded Californian Angel DeAnda in the main event of World Series of Fighting's fourth event, Spong showcased the skill, power and accuracy that made him one of kickboxing's most feared strikers.
Yet over the course of 15 minutes, Spong was unable to sufficiently hurt DeAnda, who, to his credit, fought with the properties of a brick wall.
"I went in with no expectations," said Spong, "and wanted to feel him out sand see what he was made of."
Apparently it was the stuff that fills heavy bags.
It wasn't as if the 27-year-old Surinamese-Dutchman took it easy on DeAnda. Spong unloaded power shots to the legs, body and head. It was mostly DeAnda's lower extremities that took the brunt of the damage, and somehow he remained standing as the fight came to a close.
"My left inner leg definitely hurts from his leg kicks, but overall I thought I fought a great fight," said DeAnda, who fell to 11-3. "There is no consolation in going the distance. We're both good strikers."
Judges scoring cage-side saw the contest 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28. ESPN.com had the fight for Spong, 30-27.
"DeAnda is a strong guy," Spong said. "He surprised me with how much punishment he was able to take."
Spong, who trains out of Boca Raton, Fla., with the Blackzilian camp, has visions of being a three-sport star in kickboxing, MMA and boxing. He said he accomplished what he wanted against DeAnda, and the ring time was valuable as he transitions between the three varieties of fighting.
Despite DeAnda's stubbornness, Spong said frustration never set in during the fight. He was conscious of not overpunching and hurting his hands, but he credited a guy few people gave a shot to do anything with making the fight a competitive contest.
Spong isn't sure if he'll fight mixed martial arts again the rest of this year. He's expected to return to kickboxing in October, when Glory heads to Chicago.
Moraes cuts through Hempleman
Marlon Moraes rise as a bantamweight contender continued Saturday. The 25-year-old Floridian worked over Idaho's Brandon Hempleman to the tune of a clean sweep decision (30-27 across the board). ESPN.com scored the contest 30-26 for Moraes, awarding him a 10-8 second period in which he made Hempleman's face look like something out of a slasher film.
The victory was Moraes's third in four WSOF events, setting himself up as the promotion's de facto No. 1 contender at 135. The promotion intends to promote a four-man tournament, with the winner facing Moraes for the belt.
Whomever he fights next will need to deal with a quick, accurate striker that can punch and kick with both sides of his body.
Moraes started the contest punching to Hempleman's body and head, but soon enough he focused on low kicks and they did the damage. A straight right by Moraes forced Hempleman (9-2) backwards and opened a cut in the middle of his forehead, prompting a steady stream of blood between his eyes. A counter right hook came a few moments later put Hempleman on the mat for the first time. His face was a mask of red and the cage-side physician was asked to take a look.
To his credit, Hempleman hung around, even after a second round in which he was battered. Moraes focused on Hempleman's lead leg, peppering shot after shot and eventually forcing his opponent to hobble around and switch stances.
Hempleman was essentially out of the contest after 10 minutes, prompting Moraes (11-4-1) to look for a kill shot while forgetting to put combinations together.
"It was a great fight for both of us," Moraes said. "I broke my middle finger in the first round. Not taking anything away from him, but I know I could have done better."
• Lightweight Nick Newell, 27, improved to 10-0 after scoring an early submission against Keon Caldwell (9-2). The victory brought about an enormous reaction from the crowd, which was on the Massachusetts fighter's side from the start. Born sans a left hand, Newell's story has obviously resonated with MMA fans. Yet his skill as a fighter is beginning to produce discussion as well. Against Caldwell, Newell pushed the action, especially in his effort to bring the contest to the ground.
"I lost my footing in the beginning and I actually got a little rattled when I went to throw him," Newell said.
A perfectly-timed double-leg takedown led Newell to top position. During a scramble, he scooped up Caldwell's neck in a modified guillotine, prompting a tapout at 2:07 of Round 1.
"There is no way I could ever, ever envision this fight ending like it did," Caldwell said. "Never. I just got caught up in the moment. It happens."
• World Series of Fighting president Ray Sefo wanted one more fight to reach 100 in his career. The accomplished K-1 fighter didn't need to go through the trouble, though. Prior to meeting 39-year-old Dave Huckaba, a veteran of the California circuit, Sefo, 42, did the math once more and realized he'd already hit the mark. Still, he stepped in the cage against Huckaba (21-5) and looked sharp until a missed high kick opened him up for a counter. Huckaba, a power puncher who had absorbed numerous hard low kicks, scored a hellish left hand.
"I knew he was a hard hitter, I didn't want an easy fight," Sefo said. "We were swinging for the fences, and whoever threw the best punch was gonna get it."
Sefo (2-2 in MMA) retreated to the fence and absorbed punch after punch. At 4:37 of Round 2 referee Mike Bell stopped the contest, though the WSOF president remained standing.
"Fans got a great fight," Huckaba said. "Two of us, each taking their turns hitting the other. He was really getting to me with those leg kicks, but I prevailed. What a great feeling this is!"
• Veterans Gesias Cavalcante and Tyson Griffin produced a quality scrap until referee Mike McCoy interceded at 1:37 of Round 3. The stoppage came after a strong takedown from Cavalcante (18-7-1) and quick turn into back-control. The 30-year-old Brazilian began delivering punches, though Griffin (16-7) was clearly unhurt and appeared to be attempting to escape when the decision was made. McCoy's call prompted Griffin's corner, which included Josh Thomson, to explode in protest while fans booed the decision.