Melvin Manhoef is a living legend of modern MMA. You name the organization and chances are he’s fought for it. Manhoef has fought in Cage Rage, K-1, Dream, Strikeforce, One FC, and now he’s making his Bellator debut in the middleweight main event of Bellator 125. He will leave behind a legacy in a combat sports career that very few ever hope to achieve, but he’s nowhere near done adding to his list of accomplishments.
Melvin Manhoef will clash with heavy hitter Doug Marshall tomorrow for what is sure to be a hail of fists from both sides. Both fighters are known for their knockout potential and tenacious stand up. First and foremost, he seeks to put on an entertaining fight for the Bellator fanbase.
“In Bellator, I want to really entertain the fans because the fans are the most important people. They are why we’re still alive and why the fighters can do our job. So I want to entertain the fans with exciting knockouts and special fights. That’s for sure. But from the sporting side, I want to become the champion of Bellator because I think it’s a very high-ranking organization. To be champion of that is a very big goal of mine and I’m going to chase for the title. So I plan to do both.”
Though Manhoef has fought internationally from Asia, Europe, and South America, he has a specific goal in mind coming into Fresno, CA’s Save Mart Center.
“Another thing that pushes and drives me a lot is that I want to show America who Melvin Manhoef is, and I think Bellator is the perfect organization to let people enjoy my skills. That drives me a lot, because I want to be the champion of Bellator. This is my goal.”
While Manhoef has the long term goal of title holder in mind, there’s no getting to the dance without overcoming powerhouse middleweight Doug Marshall. First impressions mean everything coming into a new organization and if he ever expects to make it to against Alexander Schlemenko, he better count on capitalizing on his earliest opportunity. Doug Marshall is a middleweight tournament winner and has as much if not more riding on the fight to get back to the top.
“I like Doug Marshall’s fighting style because he’s a stand-up fighter and he likes to bang. If you have two guys who like to bang, it’s gonna be a war. So I want my Bellator debut to be a fight that people can discuss and talk about for years, like the Cyborg fight.”
“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. 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.”
Manhoef’s competitive drive is more alive than ever coming into Bellator MMA. He’s compelled to bring his warrior spirit into the new organization, but he draws on more than just his own motivation to compete. Manhoef has the power and encouragement of his whole family backing him in the fight.
“My children mean a lot to me, and they are the drive for why I am still training and fighting. They are very proud of me. I grew up with four brothers and sisters – we had a big family. I had to take care of some of my brothers and I liked it very much, so I knew from a very young age that I wanted to have a big family. My family gives me the power and the blessing to compete. They make me strong.”
Manhoef has high expectations of his middleweight debut, leaving Bellator Fans with one last instruction for Friday:
“To the fans: don’t blink. Don’t get up or get something to drink. With my fighting style and an opponent like Doug, this is going to be one of the greatest fights of all time. I’m coming well prepared. I’m coming with my explosion. I’m coming with no mercy. I’m really gonna get this job done.”
Catch Marshall vs. Manhoef at 9/8C on SpikeTV this firday. Visit Bellator.com to see the full fight card and middleweight promo.