Bellator CEO Scott Coker said recently that if he could, he’d like to put Melvin Manhoef on a show every month.
While that would be excessive, Manhoef (29-12-1, 1 no contest), coming off a knockout loss to Joe Schilling on the Nov. 15 show in San Diego, Calif., is scheduled for his third fight in a five-month period in Bellator’s just announced second show of 2015, on Feb. 13 in Fresno, Calif. at the Save Mart Center. Manhoef will headline against former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko (50-9).
The promotion announced the fight on Friday night.
“You know that when he fights, either he’s going to knock somebody out, or he’s going to be knocked out,” said Scott Coker a few weeks ago.
That’s not much of an exaggeration. In Manhoef’s 43 MMA fights, only four have gone the distance. Shlemenko is a finisher as well. In the Russian’s 50 wins, 37 have been via finish, with 29 by knockout and eight by submission. The ground has been Manhoef’s weakness for much of his career.
Shlemenko held the Bellator title for more than 19 months before his recent loss to Brandon Halsey.
Shlemenko defeated Brett Cooper by decision on Feb. 7, 2013 to win the title vacated when Hector Lombard moved from Bellator to the UFC. After three successful title defenses, he lost the title via submission in his last fight on Sept. 26, in just 35 seconds. In his prior fight, he also lost via first round submission to Tito Ortiz on the company’s lone pay-per-view show, when giving up tremendous size in fighting at light heavyweight.
At the age of 38, Manhoef began his joint career in MMA and kickboxing in 1995, and first made his name in Japan in 2006 when he went to the finals of the Hero’s light heavyweight title tournament, before submitting against Yoshihiro Akiyama.
His biggest career wins were over Kazushi Sakuraba and an 18 second knockout win in a freak show fight against Mark Hunt, while giving up nearly 90 pounds.