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Melvin Manhoef ‘working hard on ground game’ at ATT for bout with Robbie Lawler

Standing just a half-inch over the 5’8″ mark while cutting down to a bone-dry and shredded 185 pounds, Melvin Manhoef can safely lay claim to being the single most devastating knockout artist in the brief history of mixed martial arts.

With 23 of Manhoef’s 24 career MMA victories being finished via coconut crunch, this Amsterdam based Muay Thai specialist currently boasts an absolutely terrifying knockout percentage of 96%. Bottom line: If you suffer a defeat to this human terminator with sledge hammers for arms, you’re waking up to smelling salts and an excruciatingly painful migraine headache that you never could have imagined possible.

That’s why the K-1 veteran’s next bout against fellow heavy handed bruiser Robbie Lawler – who is also widely viewed to be one of the sport’s premier finishers with an 83% knockout ratio – has sadistic beatdown addicts everywhere licking their chops in anticipation of what’s to come.

The violent duo are set to bash one another in the face on January 30 from Sunrise, Florida during “Strikeforce: Miami“, which will air live on Showtime.

Coming off of what could be argued as the biggest win of his career, Manhoef is looking to build upon a recent TKO stoppage over the highly regarded Kazuo Misaki to establish himself as a top middleweight in his new home with Strikeforce, and a convincing win over a former champion in Robbie Lawler would certainly push Melvin in the right direction.

While the recent victory over Misaki has served to further power Manhoef’s sails with a surge of confidence and momentum, it hasn’t been without one tragic setback.

“In the beginning of December our gym, Mike’s gym, burnt down so I had no good place to train”, said Manhoef during an exclusive conversation with conducted in the days leading up to his Strikeforce debut. “My preparation for the fight against Misaki was already not optimal at all. I had to train at several gyms every day. The traveling took up a lot of my time so training wasn’t great.”

Knowing in his heart that he couldn’t expect to have the type of continued success it would require to claw his way to the top of the middleweight division under his previous circumstances, Manhoef has corrected the problem for this bout in the form of one of the most respected mixed martial arts gyms in the sport.

“For my next fight against Robbie Lawler I wanted to be able to focus just on training again that is why I decided to go to the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida,” said Manhoef.

While there’s no arguing that Melvin is one of the most dangerous strikers on the planet, his Achilles heel is no secret: In order to progress from the sport’s most lethal knockout specialist to one of it’s most lethal competitors, Manhoef needs work on his ground game. Work he will get training alongside Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and an endless stable of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts in Florida.

“At ATT there are many good fighters for me to train with so I can focus even more on improving my ground game,” said Manhoef. “I’ve been working hard on my ground game here in Miami.

“I learn a lot from the guys at ATT for my submission skills.”

The trip out to ATT isn’t a first for the K-1 veteran, and he has revealed to 5 Oz. that it will be far from his last.

“In the past I’ve been training more often at ATT and I will definitely come back to train here again,” said Manhoef.

The thought of Manhoef becoming confident on the canvas is a frightening prospect for anyone that chooses to face off with the thirty-three year old power puncher in the near future. According to Melvin, he’s perfectly fine with considering himself a work in progress, explaining, “I’m still growing. I never stop learning. The difference between me and most MMA fighters is that they have a 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 Robbie Lawler may be known as a head hunter in his own right, Manhoef isn’t taking anything for granted in this match-up. Whether the fight stays on the feet or somehow manages to go to the ground, “No Mercy” promises to show the world exactly how he earned his nickname.

“I know Robbie is a strong fighter and I don’t underestimate him,” said Manhoef.

With tunnel vision on his upcoming showdown with Lawler clouding his vision, Manhoef hasn’t had the chance to even consider challenging for the Strikeforce 185 pound title, however, staying true to form Melvin confessed that there is no challenge he can be expected to shy away from anytime soon.

“The title isn’t on my mind yet,” explained Manhoef. “For now I just focus on this fight first.

“I’ll fight anyone within reason, so also Dan Henderson.”

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