· On The Spot ~ Melvin Manhoef
Melvin Manhoef (23-5-1) was born in Paramaribo, Suriname. When he was three years old his family moved to Rotterdam. Manhoef was involved in soccer during his youth, and was introduced to Muay Thai by his younger brother, Moreno. At 18, he had his first fight, which he won by decision. He made his K-1 debut against Remy Bonjasky in K-1 Holland GP 2002 in Arnhem, Netherlands. Melvin lost the fight by unanimous decision. In 2004, Manhoef entered the Cage Rage promotion in London. After beating Fabio Piamonte he became the World champion. He successfully defended his title for almost two years, until re-entering the K-1 fighting circuit's, MMA affiliate HERO'S in 2006. He won his first fight at Hero's 4 against Shungo Oyama by technical knockout in first round.
His last kickboxing bouts were in K-1 against Ruslan Karaev, and Remy Bonjasky. Manhoef beat Karaev via knockout, but was KO'd by Bonjasky via 3rd round head kick. Melvin has switched his main focus to MMA over the past couple of years. He lost to Dong-sik Yoon by submission armbar in K-1 Dynamite!! USA, he defeated Bernard Ackah at K-1 HERO'S 9, and also recently got a TKO win against Fabio Silva, a Chute Boxe fighter, by TKO in K-1 Hero's Middleweight GP Final.
At DREAM.4 Melvin fought Kazushi Sakuraba. Manhoef and Sakuraba circled the ring for the first minute of the fight, before Manhoef dropped Sakuraba with a hard right head kick and finished him via TKO (hammerfists) at 90 seconds into Round 1. With the win, Melvin had advanced to the semifinal round of the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix. Then DREAM.6 Melvin had to fight Gegard Mousasi and unfortunately got into a triangle choke and had to tap out at 1:28 of the first round. Mousasi went on to win the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix.
Most recently, Melvin fought Mark Hunt as a late alternate at heavyweight, despite being normally a middleweight fighter at Dynamite 2008. Regardless of the size disadvantage, he knocked out the iron-jawed Samoan in 18 seconds. It was the first time Hunt was finished by knockout due to punches. To help celebrate his victory Melvin sat down with MMA Spot.net's Chris McClain to talk about his career, and future.
CM: When can we expect to see you back competing in the ring?
MM: I will fight on the 8th of February in Antwerp and I will fight on the 28th of March in Japan. I don’t know who I will fight yet.
CM: Can you explain the circumstances surrounding your brief retirement?
MM: I took a break because my father’s wife died and I wanted to be there for him My father didn’t want me to stop fighting. Then when I got the chance to fight in the K-1 World Grand Prix on the 6th of December, I couldn’t let the chance pass.
CM: How did it come about that you took the K-1 fight with Mark Hunt on such short notice? If there was a fight you’d want to prepare for, Mark Hunt would certainly have to be at the top of that list.
MM: I was already in Japan to help Badr Hari for his fight against Alistair Overeem. Then the night before the event the K-1 organizers asked me to fight Mark Hunt. I thought about it for a while, because I wasn’t training hard and hadn’t planned to fight. Also the fact that Mark is 45kg heavier made me wonder if I had to do it. But in my heart I’m a fighter, I just want to fight. So I decided to take the chance.
CM: Once you took the fight, what was your strategy going in against such a tough opponent?
MM: Of course you can never tell up front, but my game plan was to be quick, move a lot through the ring, and try to keep the fight standing.
CM: What was it like knocking out a man who is considered to have one of the best chins in MMA, in just 18 seconds?
MM: It was a great feeling. I never expected this. I was very happy!
CM: Are you currently or have you ever had serious negotiations with UFC or Affliction? Do you want to fight in the U.S.? Your aggressive style would go over well in the states.
MM: There are no negotiations with the UFC or Affliction now. They did approach me and my trainer Mike Passenier both, but I have a contract with the K-1. I’m happy there. Off course it would be nice to fight in the USA. You never know what the future brings.
CM: Would you rather compete in K-1 or MMA bouts?
MM: I really can’t choose. I like both and I think it’s great that I get the chance to do both in with the K-1.
CM: Are there any fighters out there you really want to fight?
MM: At the moment not really. It would be an honor to fight Wanderlei Silva or Anderson Silva.
CM: How well do think you match up Anderson Silva?
MM: It would be an honor to fight him. I would like to fight him, and I think it could be a great match. Especially if I can keep the fight standing.
CM: What Middleweights do you feel would cause some match up problems for you?
MM: I don’t know, all fighters can give each other problems. You can win and lose from everyone in your weight class. Guys with a good ground game can be a problem for me. But I won from Sakuraba, who is great on the floor. I thought I’d have a heavy fight against Mark but won in 18 sec.
CM: What was it like to fight a well respected legend in Sakuraba, in Japan?
MM: It was a real honor. I always saw him as one of my heroes. Then to fight him was a dream come true. Even more special to fight him in his home country. And off course it was the best feeling in the world to win.
CM: Of your losses to Yoshihiro Akiyama and Gegard Mousasi, which loss would you most like to avenge, and why?
MM: I like to get rematches for all my losses. I hate to lose. But nevertheless these fights also made me the fighter that I am today.
CM: What made you get into Muay Thai and ultimately Mixed Martial Arts?
MM: As a child I started playing soccer. I was quite talented and was training hard to become a pro. I was never really interested in kickboxing. My uncle was a famous fighter in Rotterdam, he tried to excite me for the sport but I showed no interest. My brother Moreno was also fighting. After I broke my ankle and couldn’t play soccer anymore I thought I’d give it a try. From that point on I liked it very much and within 3 months I entered the ring for the first time. Later on in my career, I was asked to fight an MMA match. I tried it and liked it. That’s how it all got started.
CM: Where do you train? Who are some of the guys you have been working with to improve your game?
MM: I train at Mike’s Gym with Mike Passenier. He is my all round trainer and coach. Oscar Roque is my cardio/fitness trainer. For MMA, I train with Remco Pardoel, Frederik van Oosterom, and Potielli. In the summer, I go to the states to train with American Top Team. I train there with JZ Calvan and the other guys out there to improve my ground game.
CM: Are there any young fighters you train with we should be watching out for?
MM: I started an organization for young kickboxing talents named Kickbox Kids Championship. We organize events for these kids under 16. There are some big talents among them. They really impress me with their skills technique and vision. For some of those boys and girls I foresee a big future in the kickboxing world. I think within a short time we will hear from them on the international circuit.
CM: Where is your favorite city to fight?
MM: Tokyo, Japan
CM: Would you like mention any groups, organizations, or people that you work with?
MM: I want to thank my sponsors Fraldi Real-estate and Marco Verhoek of M Double You Sports Nutrition. Many people have to understand that nutrition is important because that’s the fuel for your body. Sport nutrition is the key to improve, to get better and to recover faster from your training. At www.MDYshop.nl you can find all the supplements I get from them to help me keep my physique and my strength. At this moment I am in talks to produce a special Melvin No Mercy supplement based on my experience.
CM: Thank you again for taking the time to answer some questions.
MM: Thank you too. I just want to thank my fans out there for the support. They give me strength to keep going!
by Chris McClain