After spending the last few months focusing on his kickboxing career, veteran multi-sport fighter Melvin Manhoef makes his return to MMA this Friday with his debut bout in Bellator.
With his focus shifted back to MMA, Manhoef has made some changes in his training to hopefully make more of an impact with his new company.
“I now train out of my own gym, Manhoef Fight and Fitness,” said Manhoef. “When you are preparing yourself for a big fight like this, you realize how hard it is to combine both things together, because I want to be a full pro.
“I’m working with some new guys and coaches now. They are really from the stand-up or kickboxing background. One is Andy Souwer. I train with him, other kickboxers, and I have my MMA coach. So I have a whole new team now.”
Though Manhoef has split his time between MMA and kickboxing over the years, he has spent much of that time overseas. Now with Bellator, he feels he has an opportunity to make an impact in the U.S.
“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,” he said. “That drives me a lot, because I want to be the champion of Bellator. This is my goal.”
When Manhoef (28-11-1, 1NC) makes his promotional debut at Bellator 125 this Friday in Fresno, Calif., he’ll be facing fellow stand-up specialist Doug “Rhino” Marshall (18-7) in the evening’s main attraction.
“I like Doug Marshall’s fighting style because he’s a stand-up fighter and he likes to bang,” said Manhoef. “If you have two guys who like to bang, it’s gonna be a war.
“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 knockout power and I don’t want to get that from him. I think my punches are quicker and more technical though.”
Manhoef feels this bout on Friday can be a statement fight and can help him establish himself on the American MMA scene.
“To the fans: don’t blink, don’t get up or get something to drink, (because) with my fighting style and an opponent like Doug, this is going to be one of the greatest fights of all time,” said Manhoef. “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.
“I just want to say thank you to all my fans around the world for supporting me during my career. I don’t have any excuses. They will enjoy the same fighting style from me that they’re already used to.”