Following years of him fighting overseas and in kickboxing events, middleweight Melvin Manhoef has finally found a home it would seem in the American MMA circuit with his recent joining of Bellator.
For Manhoef, joining Bellator sees him reuniting with a promoter who has featured him in the past, which makes his opportunity in this new promotion.
“I had fought for Scott Coker before when he was with Strikeforce, so it was great to fight for him again in Bellator,” Manhoef told MMAWeekly.com. “Bellator is a respected organization and for me it means a lot that they invited me, so I want to do the best that I can.
“Some of the diehard fans know of my fights in Japan, but it is best for me to come to America and do what I did in Japan and Europe here. If I can do that, I will be very thankful and feel very blessed.”
Manhoef quickly paid back Bellator’s faith in him with a first round highlight reel knockout of former WEC champion Doug “Rhino” Marshall this past September.
“The fight with Doug Marshall was very good,” said Manhoef. “I think for my debut it couldn’t have been better.
“I thought we could go a little bit more, but it worked out pretty okay for me. I was satisfied. It was a good fight for the fans, and that’s the most important thing for me.”
Manhoef (29-11-1, 1NC) will be looking for his second Bellator win this Saturday in San Diego when he takes on fellow K-1 veteran Joe Schilling (1-3) in a feature bout.
“I think both of us don’t know the BJJ and wrestling game as good as other fighters, so I think it’s going to be a stand-up fight,” said Manhoef of his bout with Schilling. “It’s going to be like a K-1 fight with small gloves in the cage.
“What I have to watch out for is his reach. He’s going to try to keep his distance from me, but I’m used to that, so it will be okay. I think it will be a nice fight for the crowd.”
While he has fought more MMA bouts on a more consistent basis, Manhoef doesn’t feel it will be an advantage due to what he believes the fight will play out.
“Normally I have an advantage over MMA fighters with my stand-up and this is what I don’t have now because (Schilling) has good stand-up,” said Manhoef. “I think it is going to be even.
“The ground game, I don’t know his, but mine is okay but not top-level. In experience in MMA, this is the only thing I have a little advantage, but this advantage cannot give me the win very easily.”
It’s not enough for Manhoef to just win and establish himself in his new company; he is looking to claim a belt in Bellator sooner than later.
“After this fight, I can continue to go for the title,” he said. “I want to be the champion. It’s going to be an honor to fight for the title.”