Friday, March 9, 2007

Melvin Manhoef: FCF Interviews Dutch Striker as He Prepares for K-1 Hero’s Fight

By Antonio Carvalho

Melvin Manhoef is a 30-year-old fighter from Amsterdam, Holland that currently fights for the K-1 organization. He is widely known as a devastating striker with many of his wins coming by way of KO. He will be fighting Yoshiki Takahashi at the next K-1 Hero’s event, March 12th, in Nagoya, Japan. I had a chance to catch up with him and discuss his training, his goals and what he plans to do in his next fight.

When did you get started in martial arts?

I started when I was eighteen years old and I started in Muay Thai. So I started a little bit late. I trained for a couple of years and fought for a couple of years. Then I stopped fighting for maybe about six years and then took it up again. So now I am training seriously and for the last two years I have had a least fifteen or sixteen fights. I only lost two out of all of those fights and many of my wins have been by knock out. So now I am under contact with K-1 Hero’s and have an eight fight deal with them. So I do both the regular K-1 and the K-1 Hero’s part as well.

How did you get the nickname "Marvelous"?

In Japan they call me "The Cannibal". My trainer Mike Passenier calls me Marvelous, in the Dutch magazines they call me "No Mercy," so in Japan, I will be the Cannibal. In Holland, I will be No Mercy and Marvelous. I am cool with that because I like all three nicknames. The nickname Marvelous came about because I had a ton of knock outs on my record. So my trainer named me after Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Actually, it was right before one of my fights where he told me if I knocked the guy out that he would call me Marvelous so I did! In the Dutch magazines they call me No Mercy because of my relentless style. I would not stop attacking my opponents and keep coming after them. In Japan, they call me the Cannibal because I fight like (pauses) I don't know why they call me that! (laughs) I got to find out myself. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

How did you get involved with K-1 Hero’s promotion?

Originally, I was fighting in Cage Rage in England and I defended my title three times against Fabio Piamonte, Cyborg [Evangelista Santos] and Ian Freeman. After that, K-1 came to me with an offer. My manager Simon Rich from "Showtime" promotions already had a little connection with the K-1 promotion and I got a good contract with the K-1.

At this point, what is your goal? Is there any particular championship or anywhere else you would like to fight?

Well, in my last fight, I lost to Akiyama in the K-1 tournament finals. That was my goal before. So that goal had to be postponed for one year. So now, in 2007, I am going to be doing more work on my ground skills and mixing everything. So my first goal is to be a world champion in Hero’s and after that, I will set another goal. Also, I want to participate in regular K-1.

So you still want to go back and do regular K-1 kickboxing?

Well, I do prefer MMA right now. It is what I have been practicing the most now. I do like them both though. Muay Thai is what I started with and it is my first love. But it is difficult to combine the two sports and get full determination to be the best at both. So having to train for an MMA fight and then going back to kickboxing can get a little difficult. I do my best and I train both kinds of styles. So I do think I can manage. I am doing well now. Only my last fight with Ray Sefo I had a little bad luck. But that is all part of the game you know. You can't always win.

Do you have aspirations to be a regular K-1 champion as well?

Well, you have to be realistic. I am only a meter seventy-five (5'8) and the biggest guy Hong-man Choi is like a two meters and twenty-two (7'3) at one hundred and sixty kilos. So I am realistic about it and realize that that would be very difficult to beat guys like Semmy Schilt and many of the other big guys. Now, there is a one hundred kilos and under division in the K-1. So now that is something that interests me. I think I could manage in that division. However, that would be a goal for another year. For now, it’s MMA and becoming a champion in Hero’s.

Let’s go back to your last fight. What went wrong in the fight against Akiyama?

Against Shungo Oyama, I smashed him up and I actually broke my hand. But the fight did go well for me. In the second fight against Akiyama, he was tentative, so I got aggressive and kept going after him. I got greedy. I must have landed nine strikes in a row with the same hand. Then we got close and he grabbed me and I tried to drop him to the floor with a slam. Like a suplex or something, but I really didn't know how to do it. So I landed on my own head and was a little disorientated. Next thing I know I am caught in an arm bar and forced to tap. For me, it's just experience. Just because the first fight goes well does not mean the second one will be the same as well. So you must be careful. Now I know for the tournament for next year. I have nothing against Akiyama. He did a great job and he is the champion. Next year, it will be my turn.

Do you feel that in the tournament format, not always do the best fighters win? Sometimes one fighter might have an easier time in there first fight and have an advantage going into the second fight?

Yes, absolutely. It is about luck as well. I don't really know how K-1 does the draw and matches people up. I don't think it is random. I think they just chose who fights who.

Would you prefer to fight a rematch with Akiyama in a straight super fight and not in a tournament format?

Of course I would. No problem. I would love to fight him. I will fight anyone. I like fighting. Fighting is my profession and my hobby. I really enjoy it and that is why I don't mind who I have to fight. I am getting better all the time. I am getting better on the ground game too. This is really good for me. So as I grow as a fighter, I can challenge the bigger fighters like Sakuraba. He is one of the most well known MMA fighters and he is really good. For me, it would be an honor to fight him. He has a good background on the ground and that would be a test for me to see if I am at that level and can handle the skills. I am slowly getting there. That is why I want to fight better and better opponents every time.

When did you begin to work on your ground skills?

About two years ago. So it has not been for very long.

So right now, you are also focusing on the ground a lot more. So is that something you feel you need to work on in order for you to get to that next level?

Yes. When you are comfortable and good on the ground, you can let it go more from the standing position. I can give it more and I won't panic and think to myself, oh no, I am on the ground! So I will know what I need to do next. If I get the rest of that part of the game, there will be a lot of problems for a lot of people. I am that confident in myself. So if my opponent wants to go to the ground I will give it my all there. If they keep it standing, that is obviously fine with me too. After a while my opponent will just get confused and just stop fighting altogether! (laughs) I am joking, I am joking. I like to fight spectacularly you know. I like to fight to just to keep going all over the place. Either he goes down or I go down. I like to brawl it out for sure!

You would like to put on a show for the crowd every time.

Yeah. They are paying to watch the fight. On top of that, I like it for myself as well. So not just for the crowd. I love to brawl and the crowd loves it too. Even when I go watch fights, I don't like to watch boring fights. I understand that there are high skills involved, but the people come to fights for the blood and aggression. Also, I like that kind of fight and enjoy fighting like that myself.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is getting big in North America. What is you opinion of them and do you have any aspirations to fight in the UFC and in North America at some point?

Of course I would love to fight there. The UFC puts on a great show and I would really enjoy fighting in Las Vegas. However, K-1 is going to be in L.A as well. So the K-1 is getting bigger and bigger as well and is coming back to America. As of now, I am under contract with the K-1 and I must serve my contract. K-1 has been good to me and I don't want to be ungrateful to them. So right now, fighting in the UFC is not possible. If after my contract is finished with K-1 and I am still part of the big picture, then yes, I might go to the UFC. After all, fighting is my profession and I still have a wife and kids to feed. But if K-1 offers me a good contract again, I may just stay with them.

Is there anyone outside of K-1 that you would like to fight?

I like fighters who can brawl. Guys like Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva. I know that is too early for me to fight them right now. They are great fighters and an inspiration for me. Eventually I want to be at that level and challenge them as well. That's the same way I feel about Sakuraba too. I also want to be the best and I want to fight and beat the best. I don't go looking for anyone in particular. So it is not a problem of who I would like to fight. I think I would fight anyone. So it is hard for me to say I want to fight a particular person. I'll fight anyone who comes in my way. I don't choose who I fight. I am a fighter and I just fight.

In the next K-1 Hero's event, you are fighting Yoshiki Takahashi. What do you know of your opponent?

I don't know much. I watched some shorts clips of him. I originally was supposed to fight an American fighter. But two weeks before the show, they changed my opponent. So I really haven't seen too much of him and didn't study him too much. There are no problems for me. I am just going to go there and fight him.

Any particular way you want to end the fight?

Of course by knock out. This is my game and this is what I do best. I want to make it quick. But if it does go for ten or fifteen minutes, I have the energy and the power to do it. I am very confident and I feel good. I am not afraid of him. So, let's brawl!

Is there anything you would like to add? Something for your fans?

Yes, please check out my website for news and results of my fights. Also, thank you for the support and please keep watching me fight. I will never disappoint. You can always expect a spectacular fight from me.

Thank you very much Melvin and good luck!

Thank you!

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