Melvin Manhoef took just 85 seconds to win his Bellator debut, knocking out Doug Marshall in the first round of their main event at Bellator 125 in Fresno, Calif.
Manhoef applied his typical power and speed, beating up Marshall to pick up the KO and — to his surprise — the next shot at the Bellator middleweight title.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Manhoef said, reacting to the quick finish, adding that he wanted to kiss Bellator CEO Scott Coker for the title opportunity.
Manhoef and Marshall measured each other early, but it was the Dutch striker that first began to pour on the heavy offense, landing power punches and leg kicks.
As Marshall covered up, Manhoef faked low and went high to land an overhand right that sent his opponent falling face first to the canvas. One more strike on the ground and the referee stopped the contest at 1:25 of the opening round.
With the win on Friday, Manhoef improves his record to 29-11-1 with a no-contest, and he now awaits the winner of Bellator 185-pound champ Alexander Shlemenko and Brandon Halsey.
Brazilian middleweight Rafael Carvalho also started his run in Bellator on a good note, earning a technical knockout over Brian Rogers in their co-main event.
Despite some early trouble with Rogers battering him with punches, Carvalho persevered through the onslaught to land his own sequence of head strikes. Wobbled, Rogers stayed in a bent-over position against the cage with his hands on the ground. Carvalho landed consecutive punches to the head before the referee stopped the fight at the 3:06 mark of round one.
In earlier main-card fights, heavyweight Javy Ayala and featherweight Goiti Yamauchi picked up wins, each applying rear-naked chokes for first-round finishes.
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