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With kickboxing return set, Tyrone Spong unlikely to fight next MMA bout until mid-2013

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There were only a handful of professional mixed martial arts debuts in 2012 that drew any kind of attention, and perhaps none was more newsworthy than the arrival of Tyrone Spong.

In a one-year stretch, the longtime kickboxing powerhouse made the move to the U.S., joined Florida's Blackzilians, and ultimately signed with the World Series of Fighting. On Nov. 3, he made his debut on national television on NBC Sports Network and savaged Travis Bartlett, finishing him in a first-round knockout in just 3:15.

During the fight, Spong showed he still has some of his kickboxing instincts. After flooring Bartlett with a blistering right hand against the cage, Spong turned and walked away instead of jumping in for the finish. As it turned out, referee Steve Mazzagatti quickly determined that Bartlett was done, so it didn't cost Spong, and he joked about it afterward.

The win left many wanting more, but it appears the wait for his MMA return will be a lengthy one.

Now a desirable property in two sports, Spong will be heading back to the kickboxing world for his next fight. While he was expected to face Remy Bonjasky on Feb. 16, the fight was pushed back to March 23 to better accommodate Bonjasky's schedule.

That will unfortunately set back Spong's timeline for a return to MMA, as his manager Glenn Robinson told MMA Fighting on Monday that he likely won't be back in the cage until the middle of 2013. Robinson said that they had no particular date in mind, but with the date of Spong's late March kickboxing fight along with recovery time afterward and a need for an MMA fight camp prior to his return, the mid-year return sounds fair.

Spong is 68-6 with 1 draw and 1 no contest in his kickboxing career. Just 27 years old, Spong had said he'd lost some of his motivation for the sport prior to deciding upon making his MMA debut. In his last kickboxing fight, he knocked out Peter Aerts in June 2012.

His March 23 fight with Bonjasky for the Glory promotion will take place at the Excel Arena in London.

Meanwhile, the World Series of Fighting has yet to formally announce a date for its second show.