Tiffany Van Soest local MMA/Muay Thai star

In her last match with Cong Wang (L), Tiffany Van Soest (R) scored a knockdown with this spinning backhand.

On October 22, Tiffany Van Soest of Solano Beach, CA will be residing at 3000 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nevada at the Las Vegas Hilton. She’ll be in Las Vegas to fight Cong Wang in a USA versus China WCK showdown of Muay Thai/Kickboxing Champions.


Back on November 16, 2010, Tiffany fought a majority draw against the same Cong Wang at Harrah’s Las Vegas.

They say, "A tie is like being all dressed up with no place to go." That's what happened on November 16, 2010 at Harrah's Casino when the judges declared the Cong Wang (L) and Tiffany Van Soest (R) battle a majority draw.

When asking Tiffany’s coach, Alex Palma, about her chances in this one, he replied, “Tiffany’s a naturally gifted athlete who at times likes to do other things, play other sports and enjoy other interests. That’s not possible if you’re planning on becoming a world champion.”

In plain language, he was telling me that nowadays, when you want to be the best at anything, you have to have tunnel vision, have complete focus on that one sport. To do so, you end up sacrificing. And, if you don’t sacrifice, you’re going to be called all sorts of things, even lackadaisical.

Tiffany Van Soest (R) is seen grabbing Cong Wang's foot and preparing for a bit of retribution from her angry opponent.

Even though Tiffany hasn’t a lackadaisical bone in her body, at this juncture Palma’s not satisfied. Not now and maybe never. Not that he’s not hopeful, but he’s the type of coach that holds back the praise until such time that he sees his fighter hitting the heavy bag with such bad intentions that they might split the bag in half. So far in her training for this Vegas fight, he hasn’t seen that. He hasn’t seen that Eye of the Tiger.

Tiffany Van Soest is shown working out on the heavy bag at the Black House Team Nogueira Gym in preparation for her upcoming fight against Cong Wang.

It’s always fun to be introduced to an exceptional athlete and find out more about them. Hopefully, the following interview will do just that.

Ms. Van Soest, in your previous life, pre-MMA, what did you do? What other sports have you competed in? 

Before Muay Thai and MMA, I competed heavily in karate. I started when I was 8 years old and competed all the way up until I moved to San Diego to attend college. So even before Muay Thai and MMA, I was into martial arts and fighting. I also started playing soccer when I was 5 and played my entire life, even at the college level. I played two seasons at Cal State San Marcos. I’ve always been active in sports. When I wasn’t at the dojo or on the soccer field, I was riding my skateboard, surfing, or trying my hand at baseball, basketball, and golf. I even pole vaulted in high school.

From a very early age, Tiffany Van Soest, shown here with her fellow championship karate team members, was actively participating in quite a few sports.

Which of the athletes do you truly admire? Your favorites when growing up? Whether in your present sport or the whole shebang … women’s soccer, volleyball, basketball, football, boxing?

When you're on a soccer team like this one, the players have a tendency to fool around, a lot. When asked to pose for the team photo, everyone, including the coaches, started clowning around.


When I was little I was fascinated with Bruce Lee, Michael Jordan, Michelle Akers and Mia Hamm of the US Women’s National Soccer team. I always followed their careers from a young age and aspired to be an athlete of that caliber. Now I have added George St. Pierre and Anderson Silva to the list.

Would you have preferred to be a multi-sport champion rather than just the one? How did you get involved in Muay Thai Kickboxing and MMA?

I’m proud and truly fortunate to be able to say I am a multi-sport champion. I won state, national, and world championships in karate and was a member of a championship high school soccer team, a nationally ranked college soccer team, and I won the league championship in pole-vaulting my junior year of high school. I got involved with Muay Thai through my karate training. I wanted to take my training to the next level, which, at my dojo, was Muay Thai. From Muay Thai sprung my interest in MMA. They all pretty much evolved from each other.

As far as nicknames, has anyone tried to give you one? 

Time Bomb has been my nickname since I first started training in Muay Thai. One day while sparring I got hit really hard and my instructor said that was like the spark that ignited a wick because after that I “went off like a bomb.” So, from then on, as much as I didn’t like it, Tiffany Time Bomb became my name. I learned to just embrace it. Ha ha!

Tell us about your ah-ha moment, the moment you realized there was no turning back? The day you said, “I want to be the very best at this sport.”

I had always competed in Muay Thai for the challenge and thrill. It wasn’t until after my third fight that I had my “ah-ha” moment. It was during training. I had already sparred 10 rounds. I figured we were done for the day. Kru Alex told me to put my hoodie on. I did as I was told. He then put a 40 pound weighted vest on me, followed by strap-on hand weights. I felt like I was on the SWAT team or something. Then he set a 150 pound heavy bag in front of me and told me I was to flip it end over end back and forth across the mat for 10 minutes straight with kicks and burpess added randomly. With a dull pain, lungs on fire, every fiber of my being feeling completely fatigued, plus a few tears streaming down my face, I did as instructed. That 10 minutes felt like 10 hours. The second the round timer beeped signaling the end of the 10 minutes, I collapsed to the ground. That is when I had my “ah-ha” moment. If I could push myself through that, who knew what else I could accomplish? Right then and there, laying in a pool of my own sweat, I decided I wanted to be the best at this sport.

Since you’re still learning the many disciplines, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing, etc. have you sought help with a multitude of teachers or how has that worked out for you?

Yes, as Kru Alex has always said, “It takes a village to raise a fighter.” I’ve been learning these disciplines from masters of their crafts. Alex Palma, Rafael Dallinha, Adriano Camolese, Manny Hernandez, Anthony Day, Erin Beach, and my training partners. I am extremely fortunate for the opportunity to learn from so many great coaches and athletes. So far, it has worked out great. I feel like I learn something new or get better with each session.

In your maturation process, I’m sure there have been some key people that you have learned from, either from sparring or coaching. What has it been like for you to work with these people? Which have been the most helpful?

Again, anyone who has squared off with me has taught me something or helped me in one way or another. It has been awesome to work with these people. Thank you so much to everyone I’ve trained with – my coaches, my students, my Black House Team Nogueira Family, Liz Carmouche, Walel Watson, and Matt Fort of SDCA Team Hurricane Awesome, Steve Gable, and Jessica Pene, and Black Ops Human Performance. To anyone I forgot, I’m sorry, I get hit in the head a lot. Ha ha!

Three of the people who have helped Tiffany get better are (L to R) coach Manolo "El Huracan" Hernandez, Alex Palma, and Strike Force star Liz Caramouche.

How difficult has it been for you to find the great sparring partners of or above your skill level? And tactically, how do you approach each of your sparring sessions?

I have many great sparring partners and don’t usually have to look too far outside of my own gyms. However, I do like to mix it up and spar with fighters from other gyms as well. Everyone has something different to offer. With each sparring session I try to take the things I’ve worked on in my one on one training and implement it. For example one round I’ll try to do this more than that, one round I’ll work on something else. Baby steps are key to building the final product.

When you’ve lost a match, I understand you now have two losses and one tie, what were your failings. How did your training or skills let you down? Was the other gal better prepared, stronger or more skilled?

Everyone is beatable, including myself. As much as I hate to admit that, I know it’s true. I can tell you right now that my heart or desire has never been an issue. I have learned something from each of my losses. Everyone has bad nights and good nights. Sometimes you have a bad night when it counts the most. I have the best coaches around. I blame no one but myself for my losses. I have faced some tough opponents and I’m not taking anything away from them or their performances. If they beat me, it is because I did not do what I was supposed to do, or I left it in the hands of the judges.

Sizewise, Tiffany's not ready to challenge the likes of Anderson Silva, a UFC World Champion. In this photo, Van Soest and Silva pretend they're about to get it on.

You current Muay Thai record? Your current MMA record?

Currently my Muay Thai record is 9-1-1 and my MMA record is 1-1. Those 1’s bother me.

Did you ever imagine the Mixed Martial Arts would take you to the heights it has taken you? 

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be where I am thanks to the mixed martial arts. When I sit back and think, it all started simply because I was a feisty little girl who wanted to be like a ninja turtle is surreal.

As a performer, where has MMA and Muay Thai taken you? Have you been to Canada, South America, Europe, South East Asia? 

I’ve fought in many cities in California, different states around the country and in China twice.

Your best trip to date? 

My best trip was definitely our trip up to San Mateo. Even though I lost that fight, the memories are priceless.

The travel quirks – which have been the funniest or perhaps the most irritating?

Cutting weight while traveling is definitely irritating. Kru Alex’s slow driving … Haha! Just kidding! The funniest is traveling with the Blue Ocean Thai Boxing team. We’re a crazy family that gets hit in the head too much and it shows! Haha! The family that fights each other, stays together…or something like that.

How hard is it for you to turn that switch on and off? Isn’t it like being two different personalities? One day you’re a student, next day a teacher and then suddenly this fighter, center stage, competing at the highest level, with everyone in awe of your ability. That’s quite a transition to repeat over and over again.

Tiffany and her sparring mate, Kristina Alvarez (L) were recently featured on the front cover of a local magazine.

Some days it is harder than others. When I’m stressing over a mid term exam or a project and I have to go spar. Or when I spend so much time at the gym that I could kick someone who irritates me. Then I go straight to school and get irritated there but have to suppress my urge to kick someone. But like with anything, practice makes perfect. I am the Time Bomb at the gym and in competitions, and outside of that, I’m Tiffany – a normal girl who loves to surf, shop, and be silly. It keeps life interesting. Spiderman never complained about having two identities!

The lady you are about to face, Cong Wang, I see where you have fought before. What can you tell us about her? What are her strengths?

Her opponent on October 22, Cong Wang, is taller and will likely use her reach advantage.

She is a Sanshou style fighter. She’s taller than me (like the majority of my opponents and sparring partners), and just plain tough. She’s a good kicker, but definitely beatable.

What do you think she’s been working on to prepare for this upcoming match?

If I had to guess, I’d say she’s been working on her boxing.



If you were planning a fun evening would it involve watching sports, an NFL football game, a UFC, Bellator show, a boxing match or would it involve something like the theatre or a concert?

With her good looks, Tiffany Van Soest could easily be a professional model.

I like it all! Any type of fun event! I love watching fights, soccer games, and other sporting events, live or televised. I love going to concerts. And I love getting dressed up and going out on the town. I have a big closet jam packed with clothes and accessories, so it is nice to put on some heels and something other than fight shorts every once in a while. When I’m not fighting, I’m pretty girlie!

When you watch other Mixed Martial Artists perform, what are you keying on?

I look for little patterns and tendencies. Everyone notices the big shots and flashy moves. I try to look for the setups and technique.

Is there any one fighter in your weight class and specialty that you are looking forward to facing?

Not anyone specifically. I want to test myself against whoever wants to test themselves against me.

If someone were just starting out in the sport, what would you suggest they do? 

Practice, practice, practice, practice. And when you’re done practicing, practice some more! Ask lots of questions and learn from anyone who is willing to teach you something.

What comprises the best instructor, the perfect gym, a gym that has it all?

In my opinion, the best instructor isn’t afraid to share and doesn’t try to mold his/her students. He/she tries and errs to find out what works best for each particular fighter. I think a perfect gym is the gym where everyone is there to work hard, help one another, and get better.

Every once in awhile, Tiffany runs into one of those Hollywood types, like Steve-O, Stephen Gilchrist Glover from Jackass and of course she has no problem fitting in.

As far as food intake, what are your favorite foods? The ones that make you feel your best, your strongest?

For the most part I eat pretty clean. Lots of protein and complex carbs. Natural food. My diet is pretty strict when I’m training for a fight. However, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t enjoy junk food and sweets! I’m extremely fond of California burritos! Ice cream, cookies, and “cheat food” as I call it, makes me happiest. But “clean food” makes me feel strongest.

The men get beat up pretty bad and end up with Cauliflower ears, flattened noses and yet you have managed to stay the same, what some people might say, pristine, as if you’ve never been touched. How is this possible? Have you had many injuries? 

Like I tell the little guys, the kids I teach, “You gotta protect the money maker!” Meaning keep your hands up and move your head. I know the risks involved in fighting and I’m okay with that. I’ve had my share of black eyes, lumps, and a cut. These things heal. I’ve been pretty lucky to have had so few injuries for as long as I’ve been training. I believe the worst have been a broken nose and a broken rib.

Coach Alexander Palma and his student, Tiffany Van Soest are shown looking across the ring at an opponent ready and willing to inflict maximum damage.

Your ultimate goal in the sport? Your ultimate goal in life? 

My ultimate goal in the sport is to compete for as long as I enjoy it and I’m able to do it at the best of my ability. For some, the goal may be winning a championship, for others it might be to have a certain number of fights. I take it one day at a time. If I get the opportunity to fight for a championship, you better believe I’m going to do all I can to win. For now, I’m happy with just knowing at the end of each training session or fight, that I left it all out there.

My ultimate goal in life is to be happy. I want to look back and have no regrets. I have many aspirations and goals – short term and long term. I will have my Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology in May. I’ve started my own small personal training business (Time Bomb Training) and want to expand that after I graduate.

From there I’ll work on my career and fighting. Then maybe my prince charming will sweep me off my feet and we’ll live happily ever after and all that blah, blah, blah. If not, I’m just fine with splitting time between being Tiffany and Time bomb.

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