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Melvin Manhoef ‘working hard on ground game’ at ATT for bout with Robbie Lawler

Standing just a half-inch over the 5’8″ mark while cutting down to a bone-dry and shredded 185 pounds, Melvin Manhoef can safely lay claim to being the single most devastating knockout artist in the brief history of mixed martial arts.

With 23 of Manhoef’s 24 career MMA victories being finished via coconut crunch, this Amsterdam based Muay Thai specialist currently boasts an absolutely terrifying knockout percentage of 96%. Bottom line: If you suffer a defeat to this human terminator with sledge hammers for arms, you’re waking up to smelling salts and an excruciatingly painful migraine headache that you never could have imagined possible.

That’s why the K-1 veteran’s next bout against fellow heavy handed bruiser Robbie Lawler – who is also widely viewed to be one of the sport’s premier finishers with an 83% knockout ratio – has sadistic beatdown addicts everywhere licking their chops in anticipation of what’s to come.

The violent duo are set to bash one another in the face on January 30 from Sunrise, Florida during “Strikeforce: Miami“, which will air live on Showtime.

Coming off of what could be argued as the biggest win of his career, Manhoef is looking to build upon a recent TKO stoppage over the highly regarded Kazuo Misaki to establish himself as a top middleweight in his new home with Strikeforce, and a convincing win over a former champion in Robbie Lawler would certainly push Melvin in the right direction.

While the recent victory over Misaki has served to further power Manhoef’s sails with a surge of confidence and momentum, it hasn’t been without one tragic setback.

“In the beginning of December our gym, Mike’s gym, burnt down so I had no good place to train”, said Manhoef during an exclusive conversation with conducted in the days leading up to his Strikeforce debut. “My preparation for the fight against Misaki was already not optimal at all. I had to train at several gyms every day. The traveling took up a lot of my time so training wasn’t great.”

Knowing in his heart that he couldn’t expect to have the type of continued success it would require to claw his way to the top of the middleweight division under his previous circumstances, Manhoef has corrected the problem for this bout in the form of one of the most respected mixed martial arts gyms in the sport.

“For my next fight against Robbie Lawler I wanted to be able to focus just on training again that is why I decided to go to the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida,” said Manhoef.

While there’s no arguing that Melvin is one of the most dangerous strikers on the planet, his Achilles heel is no secret: In order to progress from the sport’s most lethal knockout specialist to one of it’s most lethal competitors, Manhoef needs work on his ground game. Work he will get training alongside Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and an endless stable of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts in Florida.

“At ATT there are many good fighters for me to train with so I can focus even more on improving my ground game,” said Manhoef. “I’ve been working hard on my ground game here in Miami.

“I learn a lot from the guys at ATT for my submission skills.”

The trip out to ATT isn’t a first for the K-1 veteran, and he has revealed to 5 Oz. that it will be far from his last.

“In the past I’ve been training more often at ATT and I will definitely come back to train here again,” said Manhoef.

The thought of Manhoef becoming confident on the canvas is a frightening prospect for anyone that chooses to face off with the thirty-three year old power puncher in the near future. According to Melvin, he’s perfectly fine with considering himself a work in progress, explaining, “I’m still growing. I never stop learning. The difference between me and most MMA fighters is that they have a jiu jitsu/ wrestling or some other ground game background, most of them since childhood. I don’t have this and started learning the ground game only a few years ago. But I do think my submission defense is better than people say.

“On the other hand I have much more experience in Muay Thai. Most MMA fighters never get those skills like me.”

While Robbie Lawler may be known as a head hunter in his own right, Manhoef isn’t taking anything for granted in this match-up. Whether the fight stays on the feet or somehow manages to go to the ground, “No Mercy” promises to show the world exactly how he earned his nickname.

“I know Robbie is a strong fighter and I don’t underestimate him,” said Manhoef.

With tunnel vision on his upcoming showdown with Lawler clouding his vision, Manhoef hasn’t had the chance to even consider challenging for the Strikeforce 185 pound title, however, staying true to form Melvin confessed that there is no challenge he can be expected to shy away from anytime soon.

“The title isn’t on my mind yet,” explained Manhoef. “For now I just focus on this fight first.

“I’ll fight anyone within reason, so also Dan Henderson.”

  • Rich S. says:

    Lawler’s wrestling is pretty strong last time I checked.. Hell, my ears are still ringing from those slams he put on Tanner and Lytle back in the day.. But, I still think he’s just going to strike with Manhoef..

  • Dufresne says:

    I don’t see Manhoef taking Lawler down, so if this goes to the ground it’s probably going to be Lawler’s doing.
    Lawler has very good standup, but he’s been KO’d before by weaker punchers than Manhoef, so I wouldn’t be that surprised if he does try to get this to the canvas.

  • Rece Rock says:

    This will be a banger and when things get rough then they’ll start shootin for take downs if either one gets the opportunity before getting KO’d/ TKO’d

  • fanoftna33 says:

    Lawler is a very good MMA striker but against someone like Melvin who is a great Thai boxer Robbie would be much better off trading enough to get this to the ground.

  • Guthookd says:

    I will be surprised if Robbie takes it to the ground, even though that’s probably his best option. He will most likely want to proove he’s the better striker.

    I have no pick on this one. Let’s see how Manhoef does in the States.

  • Sic says:

    Obviously I am hoping that Robbie chooses to stand and bang in this one because it’s guaranteed that someone’s getting KO’d. IMO Robbie would have to be crazy to do so. If Nick Diaz could KO him there is no doubt in my mind that Manhoef can. Even Scott Smith was able to land a lot of damage against Lawler although Smith did end up losing both times. I just don’t think there is any way he can take what Manhoef has to offer on the feet. If he wants to win he takes it to the mat and tries his luck there. Hopefully Manhoef has improved his TDD and JJ and comes out with a huge KO win. I would love to eventually see him and Hendo for the belt.

  • LiverPunch says:

    If and it is a big if, Melvin gets a great sprawl and very good sub d he will be nearly unstopable. Even Silva would be hard pressed to stand with this dude. I hope this fight goes to the ground and tests him instead of being just a slugfest for the fans. A well rounded Manoef will put many bums on seats and sell a lot of pay per veiws.

  • Nick Havok says:

    A win over Melvin on the ground…pfft. Big woop.

    A win over Melvin on the feet? Now that is monumental.

    I see Robbie going for the glory and trading with Manhoef the entire fight. There is no doubt that Robbie wants to be recognized as the better striker…because as hyped, this fight features two of the best bomb throwers going toe-to-toe.

    Robbie knows it and not only does he not want to let himself down, but he also doesn’t want to let the people down. I bet everything Robbie will keep it standing.

    So really, hearing that Melvin is busting his butt training ground is probably news to Lawler’s ears. Because I’m sure Robbie is training primarily stand-up and not planning on taking it down.

    I mean I’m sure that in the back of Robbie’s mind he might have that mentality that if he gets hit a few times he will take Melvin down…but honestly, if it gets to that point, it will probably be too late for Robbie anyway.

    This fight is going to be awesome.

  • mu_shin says:

    If you can find the Dream 10 Manhoef/Paulo Filho fight on-line, its well worth watching, Filho ate this guy alive on the ground. While Manhoef is an awesome striker with an incredible knockout percentage, he is anything but well rounded, as much as he may be working on the ground game with American Top Team.

    If I’m a professional MMA fighter with the experience of Robbie Lawler, even knowing that the crowds love the knock down drag out battle on the feet, I’m thinking if I can take this guy down and submit him in the first round, I walk home with a win, without getting my lights punched out, and it’s on to the next opponent. Props to Manhoef for trying to fill the hole in his game, but I can’t see why Lawler would take the chance to trade with such a dangerous guy, when he has the wrestling chops to give him an excellent chance for victory.

    In a mixed martial arts battle, I think we’re seeing the evolution of this sport to the point where any weakness in a fighter’s arsenal will be exploited if he’s in against a quality well trained adversary, emphasis on mixed martial arts, not Muy Thai, and not kickboxing…


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