Bellator 285: All-time knockout artist Melvin Manhoef expects to retire after battle with Yoel Romero


What a run it’s been for Melvin Manhoef. The Dutchman expects to lay down the gloves after one last fight against Yoel Romero at Bellator 285 on Friday.

Manhoef, 46, left the door cracked open that another opportunity could arise in his interview with CBS Sports, but he anticipates this being one of his final walks to the cage.

“Yes, it’s the last fight of the contract with Bellator and I think it’s also going to be one of the last fights. I think it’s enough,” Manhoef said. “It’s amazing and I have had a nice journey. I’ve done so many things and I have a nice life. I’ve been appreciated by people all over the world. Now it’s time to let the young guys do their thing and step aside.

“Some part of me doesn’t want to stop, but the other part of me says, ‘Yo, your health and your age and everything.’ In this training camp, I really knocked people out. I still do. It’s still there… That’s what makes it so hard.”

Over 25 years, more than half of Manhoef’s life, the Surinamese-born Dutchman pulverized foes and shocked fans. MMA’s most prolific knockout artist has a staggering 91% knockout rate — 29 KOs in 32 wins. Just five of Manhoef’s 50 pro fights have reached the judges’ scorecards.

Check out the full interview with Melvin Manhoef below.

Success can only be measured by the individual. Manhoef never brought his unique brand of violence to UFC, but Manhoef traveled the globe and produced moments that will stand the test of time. From the comfort of his Mercedes Benz, the same vehicle he once ran down three burglars in, Manhoef detailed the gifts bestowed upon him by the fight game.

“In fighting and the gym, I could find myself. I was always trying to get better in the fights but afterward, I was also trying to get better at everything I was doing,” Manhoef said. “This is true fighting. When something is impossible, you can’t do it. I go and fight for it until I get what I want. This is normal life. Nothing in life is granted. You get your ups and downs. It helped me win life, be on the right path and do good things. Fighting is very important to me. It’s a way of life and it made me who I am today. It’s also for my kids. It sets an example… Fighting gave me that.”

Manhoef’s career accomplishments read like works of fiction: he cracked the titanium chin of heavyweight Mark Hunt in 18 seconds following a middleweight run in 2008, handed “The Gracie Hunter” Kazushi Sakuraba the fastest loss of his legendary 46-fight career in 2008, won in three separate decades (four if he beats Romero) and entered whirlwind classics against Evangelista Santos in 2006 and Robbie Lawler 2010.

“For my size and what I could deliver, I got the most out of the fight game,” Manhoef said. “I would say people would have to remember me like that. A guy who was knocking everybody out, wasn’t scared of anybody and gives it his all. That’s how I think you describe me and I think that’s very special.”

The potential final stop on a perilous and painful journey runs through Romero, a juggernaut in his own right. It’s apropos for professional fighter who takes his title more seriously than anyone in the sport’s history.

“This is also an appreciation for myself to do this in the last fight. It’s the cherry on top, fighting a true warrior like Romero,” Manhoef said. “Every fighter wants to test themselves. He came from UFC to Bellator. He has done crazy things in his career. It’s nice to measure myself against him.”

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