Newly signed Bellator MMA middleweight Melvin Manhoef has knocked out a few people in his time. There’s one, however, that sticks out in his memory.
It happened six years ago in the now-defunct Japanese promotion DREAM, one year before he made his debut in the similarly shuttered Strikeforce, and it was one of those fights that almost didn’t happen. He had just been submitted by Gegard Mousasi in the semifinals of DREAM’s middleweight grand prix, and he wasn’t exactly getting ready for his next fight.
“I was eating chocolate cake and (my manager) called me, ‘Hey, do you want to fight Mark Hunt?’” he told MMAjunkie.
Manhoef didn’t even need to put down his cake to do the math on fighting “The Super Samoan.”
“I said, ‘Man, that guy is like 140 kilos (300-plus pounds) or something. I’m 88 kilos. How do you want me to do that?’” he remembers. “(My manager) dropped the subject, but five minutes later, he said, ‘You know, I was working in a bar, and one of my friends was there with his wife. And this big huge guy touched his wife, her butt and her tits. And my friend did nothing. What would you do?’
“I said to him, ‘Man! I would really f-ck that big guy up if he touched my wife!’ And (my manager) said, ‘Yeah, that guy is Mark Hunt! So you can fight him.’ Then he called the promotion and told them that I’d be fighting. He tricked me into taking that fight.”
Hunt, who headlines Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 52 event opposite Roy Nelson, never got the chance to use his bulk when they met on New Year’s Eve at Dynamite!! 2008. Manhoef fired two well-timed punches at the MMA and kickboxing vet and knocked him out cold in 18 seconds.
“The left punch hit him so hard that his whole back and everything was shaking,” he said. ” That fight is very memorable to me.”
On Friday, Manhoef (28-11-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) hopes to earn another knockout he can savor – potentially his 54th in combat sports – when he fights Doug Marshall (18-7 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) at Bellator 125 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. The event’s main card, including the Manhoef vs. Marshall headliner, airs live on Spike TV with prelims streaming on Spike.com.
“His best chance is to get in on a lucky punch because I think my striking is a little bit better, because I’ve been doing striking for almost 20 years,” Manhoef said of Marshall, a Bellator Season 8 tournament winner. “I don’t know how long Doug Marshall has been doing it, but he has big KO power, and I don’t want to get that from him. I think my punches are quicker and more technical though. That’s just what I think.
“For the fans, it’s going to be nice if it’s a three-round war where we’re just beating each other up. I always think about the fans, and I know they’ll like that. For me, though, it’s gonna be nice if I knock him out very fast. But in the end, I don’t think the fight will go the distance and that I will win by KO, of course.”
The way Manhoef sees it, as long as he’s memorable and he delivers the type of fights that make people drop whatever beverage or dessert item is in their lap, he’s doing his job just fine.
“I like Doug Marshall’s fighting style because he’s a standup fighter and he likes to bang,” he said. “If you have two guys who like to bang, it’s going to be a war. So I want my Bellator debut to be a fight that people can discuss and talk about for years.”