The 24 year-old Californian is relaxed for now. On Friday night (AXS TV 10 ET) she defends her Lion Fight featherweight title against 18-0 Caley Reece, her toughest opponent to date. “Caley is the most experienced. I go into every fight though thinking this is the toughest fight, the toughest fighter,” Van Soest flashes the smile of something much deeper than the obvious statement.
She then examines a young career of 8-0-1, barely a pro for three years but with that extra something that can’t be taught, more honed. That thing that made her a karate standout at 8 years old; that made her good enough to play college soccer, another kind of kicks she’s excelled at. That thing that made her a national amateur champ by 18 and a WBC champ not long after her pro career was launched. The thing that gave her confidence to take her pro debut on two weeks notice. “I was brought in to lose, I didn’t. I can’t pin it down but I’ve always had a killer instinct early in the ring. I’ve always had the ability to turn it on and be tough when I have to be.”
That killer instinct was learned early in the gyms where she was training, but had to be relearned everywhere, even at the powerful Black House, her home base. For some obvious reasons, the 5’4″ Van Soest, with her long brown hair, isn’t immediately imposing but just wait that swooshing sound of air being parted by a kick, or an elbow, or a punch. Sudden and effective, thus the nickname for an attractive, misleading package capable of doing damage. Her male counterparts have always had to learn the hard way.
She grimaces at the retelling at first, then laughs out loud remembering the outcomes. “They’ll throw out a weak jab or something and I back off put my hands down and let them hit me. They’ll tap my head, then I kick them really hard. It’s the best and really only way to make them understand I am there for business, so let’s get down to it.”
The business at hand is that another win will solidify her as the face of Lion Fight, and the most recognized Muay Thai fighter in the United States. With knockout victories in three of her last four fights, a charismatic personality, and a mix of toughness and vulnerability outside the ring, makes her a public relations bonanza for the fast growing fight organization. As a bonus, she is savoring her striking talents and where she is, not where she wants to be because Tiff Time Bomb is already here. She is a champion with an expanding fan base and thorough knowledge of what is best for her.
And don’t dare rush her into anything else.
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