Tiffany Van Soest vs Tandi Schaffer Title Fight at Pala Casino

After her victory in the Battle of Champions over Malia Spanyol at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel on Friday, November 20, 2009, Tiffany Van Soest was surrounded by well wishers.

Another of the exciting matches offered on the Pala Casino Muay Thai/Kickboxing Fight Card of October 2nd involves Tiffany Van Soest of San Diego, CA. facing Tandi Schaeffer of Salt Lake City, Nevada for the IAMTF US Super Featherweight Title.

Just a month ago, Van Soest, who is 21 years old, was brimming with confidence. Then she got in the ring with the IKF Muay Thai Bantamweight title holder, Jenna Castillo, who not only proved she was stronger but at 28 years of age she has a ton more experience. Unbeknownst to Van Soest, Castillo was also benefiting from having pre-fight sparring sessions with Ana Julatan, the current WBO & IBA world super-bantamweight boxing champ.

After experiencing this setback, Van Soest (8-1) is eager to prove her first loss was just a blip on the radar. Then again this upcoming match should be just as difficult. Tandi Schaeffer’s credentials include an extensive background (8 years) of competing in MMA, Karate and now Muay Thai/Kickboxing.

At the tender age of eight, Van Soest began her training in the combat sports studying karate and by the age of 17 attained the rank of Nidan, 2nd degree Black Belt. She not only dedicated herself to achieving excellence in this discipline, she played an important role in the development of the hundreds of students who later flocked to her after she became a full time instructor.

After achieving her personal goals of winning consecutive USKA State, National, and World karate titles (with some of her students doing the same), she decided to begin training in Muay Thai/Kickboxing under the guidance of Kru Alexander Palma of the now famous Black House Team Nogueira Group which has a gym on Miramar Road.

Her explanation for the switch: “In karate you’re always holding back and showing control. With Muay Thai/Kickboxing, you get to swing through your target.”

Van Soest, who’s now a senior at Cal State San Marcos, is studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with certifications in personal training. With her current position as a Muay Thai instructor, the studies at school, participation in other sports like basketball and soccer, her calendar is always full. She not only surfs but occasionally likes to skateboard.

When asked about her schedule and the demands of her job, she answered, “Like the saying goes: ‘You never work a day in your life, if you’re doing what you want to do.’”

What happened in that losing bout with Jenna Castillo? In the first two rounds Castillo came out with this mauling style that seemed to zap Van Soest’s strength. By the third round, her strategy began to pay dividends as Van Soest did slow down. Instead of Van Soest being the aggressor, Castillo kept backing her up. In the clenches, Castillo was relentless with high and powerful knee kicks. A pair of trip takedowns in the fifth round punctuated the end of a fight which was dominated by Castillo.

There was also a weight issue. In the final days leading up to the weigh-in, Van Soest was under pressure to lose seven pounds. Since losing that weight weakened her, she felt completely spent going into that final round.

The only person who has a busier schedule than Van Soest, is Tandi Schaeffer who also likes to fight in the MMA ranks.

Talking about stamina, Tandi “Tandilion” Schaeffer, Van Soest’s opponent on Saturday, wakes at 5 a.m. every weekday to feed and give medication to her son, Ammon, who suffers from cerebral palsy, microcephalie, cortical blindness and a variety of other disabilities. She then spends the rest of her day either training or teaching classes at the Throwdown Gym in Orem, Nevada.

Schaeffer, along with the other fighters study techniques that include Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu, boxing and wrestling, and do a mixture of cardio and weight training. Most of her training is done with male fighters, which at times causes injuries.

When training is finished for the day, some days as late as 9 p.m., Schaeffer returns home to help bathe her son, feed the family dogs and herself, and spend some quality time with her family before settling into bed and then doing it all over again the next day.

“It’s that love, that support that lifts me up and gives me the energy,” she said referring to her family and friends that have stuck by her side. “I’ve got a lot of wonderful people in my life that give me support, and if my son doesn’t get tired and run down, then I can’t.”

It’s her son’s indomitable spirit taking him through the many major surgeries and challenging life that has helped push her to become who she is, a better person, a better mom, a better fighter. “I think that’s what drives me…that no matter what, I can make it through anything if he can.”

After having her first Muay Thai Kickboxing fight on November 20, 2009, Schaeffer has competed regularly. Her last MMA bout was Friday, September 24, 2010, just a week and one day before her bout with Van Soest. In that bout she KO’ed Melissa Moore at 1:38 of round two. With so little time to spare, it’s likely she prefers to have every bout end early.


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