As the sport of kickboxing navigates its frenetic pace of innovations and new talent, a constant through the last decade has been Tiffany “Time Bomb” van Soest. Born in Torrance, California, van Soest has left an indelible mark on the sport, boasting an impressive career that spans 33 fights with a 25-6-2 record. At the age of 34, she remains the Glory Super Bantamweight champion, a title she clinched with a ferocious competitive spirit and tactical brilliance. However, van Soest has always had a meticulously planned career trajectory, aiming to exit the stage at 35. With her 35th birthday slated for March 2024, the countdown has begun, and her rematch against Sarah Moussaddak at Glory 88 in Paris on September 9, 2023, sets the stage for her farewell performance.
“The pressure’s on me not just to win but absolutely dominate or to finish the fight,” van Soest emphatically stated, elucidating the high expectations she places upon herself.
In an interview with MMA Mania, she further elaborated on the unique pressures associated with this pivotal bout: “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.” The additional complexities of fighting in Moussaddak’s home country, with a Moroccan audience fervently watching the main event featuring Badr Hari, add even more layers to the stakes at hand. “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 intense pressure, however, is not new territory for van Soest. “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,” she revealed, attesting to her uncanny ability to flourish under strain.
While kickboxing has been the focal point of van Soest’s multifaceted career in combat sports, she has also ventured into Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Her initial MMA fight took place in China in 2011, where she faced a first-round triangle choke defeat to Jin Tang. With a sense of humour, she remarked, “It seemed like the way I needed to go if I wanted to make a full-time career out of fighting.” Despite this setback, she did not return to the MMA cage until 2016, by which time she had already gained significant recognition in kickboxing and Muay Thai. Assessing her options, she found kickboxing to be more financially prudent: “This is where I make my money. This is where I’m established.”
Her first showdown with Moussaddak in October 2022 resulted in a unanimous decision in van Soest’s favour. The victory, however, sparked a gamut of opinions from the sporting community. Undeterred by the controversy, van Soest reflects on her tactical prowess, “In our first fight, I wanted a boxing match. After our first couple of exchanges, I felt her aggression and I’m like, ‘Okay, I can box her all day.'”
As she stands on the precipice of her final professional bout, van Soest’s perspective transcends the immediate context. “It’s about my development as a fighter and learning different styles and tricks,” she explains, shedding light on her holistic approach to martial arts. She aims to bring a new style into the ring for her rematch with Moussaddak, stating, “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.”
With a career that has witnessed dazzling highs and arduous lows, Tiffany “Time Bomb” van Soest is prepared to culminate her journey with a performance that encapsulates her skill, resilience, and unparalleled determination. As she aptly puts it, “pressure makes diamonds,” and as she approaches her final fight, there is every indication that van Soest aims to shine the brightest.
In an era defined by transient fame and rapidly shifting paradigms, Tiffany van Soest offers a lesson in longevity, resilience, and unwavering focus. Her impending finale is not merely an end; it is a synthesis of a luminous career that promises to leave a legacy as enduring as it is dazzling. As she steps into the ring for her swan song, one thing is clear: the sport will witness not just the end of an era but the crowning of a legend.