Melvin Manhoef wants to retire as Bellator champion


Esther Lin | MMA Fighting

Melvin Manhoef faces Hisaki Kato in the main event of Bellator 146 later this week and is going into the pivotal middleweight matchup coming off two knockout losses to Alexander Shlemenko and Joe Schilling. This isn’t the first time in his career Manhoef has dropped back-to-back losses but it’s still tough for him, mentally.

Melvin Manhoef wants to retire as Bellator champion

“It’s hard coming off two loses but that’s why you fight,” he told You have to fight through this and get through it but I will give my heart and everything to make fights and win lots of fights. I didn’t leave anything behind — I prepared my body very well for this upcoming fight and this is something I want to do. I want to have my fun. So this is my mindset now I’ve done what I have to do to win this fight.”

According to Manhoef, fans will definitely enjoy his Bellator main event with Kato.

“In my mind, the matchup is two heavy hitters against each other,” he said. “Matchup-wise it’s going to be a hot fight because he likes to stand and bang and that’s also my kind of game too. It doesn’t matter, I came to fight and if he comes to fight it’s going to be a good fight for the audience and in the end I hope I can raise my hand. So that’s how I think the fight is going to go.

“On Friday night it’s going to be a hot fight.”

The 39-year old has way more experience than Kato, 38 more professional fights to be exact. Manhoef doesn’t think his experience will be a big advantage in the fight, however, because Kato proved in a recent fight he is worthy of fighting some of the best Bellator has to offer.

“It’s not going to be a huge factor because it’s still a fight. I have had so many fights that I can think about how I’m going to, I don’t know how to properly explain this in English, but yeah I think it’s going to be a little effect.”

He understood he needed to change things up after he dropped two knockout losses in a row so he left The Netherlands and went over to Sweden to train at the Allstars Training Center with the likes of Alexander Gustafsson and Ilir Latifi.

“They helped me a lot,” he told “I’m grateful for the head coach. He was busy with me all the time and my friend was helping me around in Sweden and drove me around and everything we wanted to do so I had a good training camp.”

Manhoef has actively competed in kickboxing, most recently in 2014 under the GLORY banner, but told he will likely never step inside a ring again, to compete.

“I don’t think so,” he said, “because I like to focus myself on MMA. This is what I want to do now because I want to go for the title I have a goal and I think that if I put everything on the side and put everything in one thing it could be more successful because betting on two things in MMA it’s hard. When you’re doing standup the guys are doing wrestling so I think that has to do with something. I have to focus myself on one thing now and this is what I’m going to try you know? Fighting is your beckon, so I think I’m going to do only MMA for now.”

Fans often speculate when Manhoef will step away from the sport and ultimately lots believe he already should be retired. However, he isn’t focused on retirement, at all. He’s focused on beating Kato to take a step towards winning Bellator gold — his ultimate goal.

“The champion of Bellator is how I want to end,” he told “If I could get two or three more fights it would be nice and I can go for my goal to become Bellator champion and at that time I can say, ‘I came as champion and left as champion.’

“I need to win this and I’m one step closer to my goal and If I have to take another fight then, that’s another step to my goal.”

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Nick Baldwin is a 17-year-old mixed martial arts writer. He has covered mixed martial arts since January 2014. The Winnipeg, Man., native is also a co-host of The MMA Circus. Follow him on Twitter @NickBaldwinMMA.

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