Melvin Manhoef is Coming to America, and unlike Prince Akeem’s fictional arrival by Eddie Murphy in 1988, there’s nothing funny about this human wrecking ball that is all set to familiarize the masses with how he rolls in his Strikeforce debut expected for early 2010.
With a beatdown littered history as one of mixed martial arts’ best kept secrets, you can officially consider yourself a hardcore if you live in the United States and you’ve managed to capture more than a couple of this walking highlight reel’s tussles that have been fought almost exclusively overseas.
Manhoef is without a doubt the sports most vicious knockout artist. If you don’t know, now you know. Standing at a chiseled 5’8″ tall and weighing right around the 205 pound mark, “No Mercy” has done his nickname proud during his career in mixed martial arts, showing no mercy to any of his victims; finishing an astonishing twenty-two of his twenty-three victories by knockout, and with extreme prejudice.
FiveOuncesofPain.com recently had the chance to catch up with Manhoef while he was deep in training for his New Years Eve “Dynamite!! 2009” showdown with the highly regarded PRIDE, Sengoku and Strikeforce veteran, Kazuo Misaki, detailing exactly what anyone not familiar with him can expect to see in HD, live and direct courtesy of Strikeforce, Showtime, and CBS in the new year.
“They can expect exciting fights,” said Manhoef. “My style is explosive and fast. You should know I fight with my heart, not just with my head. So when I enter the ring, I come to make war. I always go for the knockout.
“I’m very excited to fight in Strikeforce in the USA. I hope to give the American fans many spectacular fights.”
Much like fellow Strikeforce athlete Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Manhoef has long had a history an gravitating where the most money and biggest challenge could be found in regards to which weight class he chooses to compete at. In the past Melvin has found success at middleweight, light heavyweight, and believe it or not, heavyweight as well. A willingness to fight anywhere, anytime, against anyone, that the Dutch grown block of C-4 plans to bring along with him stateside.
“At the moment I already fight in both divisions for a long time,” said Manhoef. “So I plan to keep doing that in Strikeforce.”
As previously referenced, Manhoef shocked more than a few a year ago at “Dynamite!! 2008″ when the Muay Thai specialist with a history of competing at 205 and 185 pounds moved up in weight to accomplish what many had thought to be impossible, knocking an absurdly heavier Mark Hunt unconscious for the first time in his decorated and battle-riddled career.
Hunt had fought a role call of the world’s most dangerous strikers going into the bout with the much smaller Manhoef. Names like Wanderlei Silva (in his absolute prime), Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Jerome LeBanner, Ernesto Hoost, Ray Sefo, Stefan Leko, Francisco Filho, Mike Bernardo, Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem, and not once had the “Super Samoan” been truly separated from consciousness. Of course, that was until Manhoef agreed to take the fight on just 24 hours notice. A little known fact is that Melvin had only shown up to “Dynamite!! 2009″ to accompany his close friend and training partner Badr Hari for his scheduled kickboxing clash with Alistair Overeem before being offered the potentially very dangerous bout.
Perhaps it was this display of explosiveness combined with a history of sending fully grown men to Emergency Rooms all over the globe that has led many, including myself, to believe that there may not be a man walking the planet earth that Manhoef couldn’t tuck in with the right shot. A sentiment Melvin himself seems to hold close to his heart and fists.
“I think it’s possible to knock anybody out if the punch is right, even Fedor,” said Manhoef.
And while there’s no questioning Melvin’s pedigree in the striking department, the one big question mark has long been the accomplished kickboxer’s submission defense. Makes sense right? If you spend the majority of your life training in one fighting art, your weakness is naturally going to be the polar opposite of that.
Shinya Aoki will never be known as a knockout artist, and on the other side of that coin, Manhoef has no aspirations to enter the Abu Dhabi Combat Club anytime in the near future either. Melvin will never kid himself and try to convince himself he’s something he’s not. While he has long been taking strides to improve in his areas of weakness, Manhoef knows what he does best, and makes it a point to never forget where he comes from: The School of Hard Knocks.
“I’m still growing. I never stop learning,” said Manhoef. “The difference between me and most MMA fighters is that they have Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, or some other ground game background. Most of them since childhood. I don’t have this and started learning the ground game only a few years ago. But I do think my submission defense is better than people say.
“On the other hand I have much more experience in Muay Thai. Most MMA fighters never get those skills like me.”
While there’s no questioning the fact that Manhoef believes he could flip Fedor Emelianenko’s light switch with a perfectly placed punch, this natural middleweight revealed to FiveOuncesofPain that a bout with Fedor is the last thing on his mind since his arrival with Strikeforce. As history has shown, Melvin will throw down with anyone if the circumstances line up, but he currently has his sights set on two more realistic candidates.
“I think [Robbie Lawler] is a good fighter,” said Manhoef. “I would definitely like to fight him. Hopefully in 2010.
“Of course, If I could I would like rematches for all my losses. Also against Mousasi, because I think I can do better than last time, and win.”
One name that may not be the most familiar to the common MMA fan but is well known an feared throughout the world of kickboxing is Manhoef’s good friend and sparring partner at Mike’s Gym in Amsterdam, Badr Hari. Standing at 6’5″ tall and weighing in near the 240 pound mark, Hari is hands down one of the most lethal strikers in the world, and at just twenty-five years of age it’s almost impossible not to daydream of a time when the extraordinarily talented kickboxer might make transition to mixed martial arts much like Manhoef before him.
According to Manhoef, there’s no questioning Badr’s potential in the sport if he one day chooses to make the leap, but right now there’s no telling when and if Hari makes that big crossover, explaining, “I don’t know, but I think he’d be real good at it.”
There’s no denying that Manhoef is sure to have a bright future in the United States, and with Strikeforce, but when talking about the future of the sport, the real future of the sport, look no farther than Melvin’s six-year old son, Million Manhoef. A video recently surfaced of the youngster looking like a striking prodigy as the chip off the old block went to work on Thai pads held by his father in a display of fists and shins not to be missed.
Not surprisingly, the still growing Manhoef that has already shown a natural talent for punching and kicking has his sights set on a much different sport.
“At this moment he only plays soccer,” explained the supportive father. “He chose this over kickboxing. I think this is great and he should do what ever makes him happy.”
Of course, we’ll just have to see how things play out in the future, as much like Million now, Melvin also had his sights set on becoming a professional soccer player as a child as well, and now look at him; One of the scariest men on the face of the earth.
In closing, Manhoef had a few people he wanted to thank for all of the support that have shown him and his blossoming career.
“I would like to thank my sponsors MDY Sports Nutrition and Goldlabel by Specialmix who support me and give me the chance to focus just on training,” said Manhoef. “I would also like to thank my team and the people closest to me who give me the drive to push myself beyond my limits and give my all. And last but not least, I would like to thank my fans around the world who just give me the greatest feeling with their support.”