Doug “The Rhino” Marshall is one of hardest hitting middleweights in Bellator MMA. The Visilia, CA native will pack a punch and pack the house with hometown support against Melvin Manhoef in the main event of Bellator 125. We ask just how he plans to give Manhoef a welcome into Bellator’s middleweight division for his debut in the organization.
Manhoef has extensive kickboxing experience and is known for his stand-and-battle strategy. You’re known for having a strong striking game as well, so what will make the difference for victory on Friday?
Marshall: I’d say we’re mirror images of each other. We’re both heavy-handed, we’re both aggressive, we both wear skirts when we fight. It is what it is. It’s finally gonna be a fight that people wanna see. It’s not some cherry-picked publicity scheme, it’s two hungry m************ who are going in there to kill each other.
Do you still train with Elite Team? How have they been setting up your game against Manhoef?
Marshall: I do, it’s been going great. Our biggest focus has been on cardio. Everything to make sure I’m ready to go at a high pace for 3 rounds, the rest will write itself. I didn’t train in a special way or focus on any trick moves. I’m going in and swinging for the fences like I always do. I think a lot of guys get away from what got them to the show in the first place. My heavy hands and my aggression got me there and kept me there. I’ve had a great run in Bellator thus far, so I’m going to keep doing me and that’s all.
Manhoef has 7 losses by submission and you’re a BJJ purple belt. Will you try to take the fight to the ground to win there?
Marshall: If he falls on the ground I’ll probably jump on him, but other than that I’ll probably try to take myself out of myself. If I go in there thinking I gotta take him to the ground, then I’ll be just like the guys with no standup that only think they can win by submission. No, I can knock this m*********** out just like I do everybody else. Manhoef’s been in a lot of battles. He’s got a lot of mileage on him and I think I got the answer for that.
You’ve stayed at middleweight for a while now. You’re dropping down and he’s going up to meet you at this weight class. Do you feel most comfortable here?
Marshall: It’s all the same to me. I went down in weight to get away from the monsters, but there’s monsters in every weight class. There’s monsters everywhere. If I thought I could make 170 I would, but I have tree trunk legs so I don’t think I could make it there. That’s where my power comes from. He’s coming up from 175 whereas I’m coming down a good amount to get to the top of my weight class. I’ll be much heavier than 185 by the time the fight rolls around.
How do you use your legs and lower body against your opponent? When you have that power, how do you use it?
Marshall: I love to utilize kicks but it’s hard to use that against somebody that wants to take you down. When you’re standing on one leg you just don’t have the same balance. It leaves you open and susceptible for takedowns. With this fight, I’m sure we’re going to be kicking the s*** out of each other. It will be great.
Going back to Bellator 109, what do you make of your fight with Alexander Shlemenko?
Marshall: He started working on my body from the beginning and when we were up against the cage in the clinch. I let go to get out of there and went for the overhook on his right to tie him up. But he’s left handed, that usually ties up a right-handed fighter’s dominant hand. He started working on the liver on that side. What you can’t really train for is I came in with my uppercut and he timed the shot perfectly. He moved just inside with a shot straight for the liver.
Liver shots are kind of an overlooked part of modern MMA. Do you try to go for that when you can?
Marshall: I just love to punch people in the face. When I’m training or fighting, I like to watch my opponents snore on the mat. I’m a head hunter. Every once in a while I’ll reach in there for a hook or knee to the liver, but I definitely think it’s an under-utilized tool. Bas Ruten is the biggest advocate for liver and body shots that there’s ever been. He likes them because there’s nothing you can do about it when it hits you. If you buzz me hard on my head, I can clinch and let the cobwebs shake out. You hit that liver, and you feel like you’re goint to p*** and s*** everywhere. It’s involuntary and your body shuts down.
Is there anything specifically you feel like you had to train for specifically for this fight or is this pretty much a standard camp for you?
Marshall: It’s a standard training camp. My speed has gotten a lot better because of the cardio we worked on. I’m going to be fast and powerful and going in for the kill.
You’ve been in the organization since 2012, have you noticed any significant changes in the organization under Scott Coker’s direction?
Marshall: I haven’t, not really. It seems like business as usual for me.
What do you make of the Bonnar/Ortiz pre-fight ordeal?
Marshall: Somebody needs to hand me the Bellator politically correct handbook on this one or something. Everybody has their own gimmick, but isn’t there other fighters that are ready to fight Tito instead of Bonnar? I don’t know.
Tito was set to go up against “Rampage” in Bellator 108, but do you think Tito could really stand up to a guy like him? It’s been a while.
Marshall: That’s a hard one to call. They’re the reason I got out of 205. They’re huge, these m************ are just monsters. This is like clash of the titans up in here. I don’t know, I don’t really give a s*** one way or the other.
Your hometown of Visalia is pretty close to Fresno, so will you have a lot of support in this fight? Are you the hero of your hometown?
Marshall: I have a ton of support, we’re a pretty small community. 100,000 people is pretty small by any standard, but I appreciate their support a lot. They back me up and I can feel their energy in the cage. I’m always looking to put on a good show, but especially now that I’m here in my backyard, I’m looking forward to it even more.
Catch Marshall vs. Manhoef at 9/8C on SpikeTV this firday. Visit Bellator.com to see the full fight card and main event promo.