Melvin Manhoef walked away from Bellator 285 as an all-time great.
There was a time in the world, a time before streaming, where very few knew who an MMA fighter was if they didn’t fight for the UFC or a promotion like Strikeforce. It was so hard to watch promotions in the states that weren’t on national television, or in the US on pay-per-view like the UFC was. Even promotions like PRIDE FC were difficult to watch. Names and legends who thrived outside of the UFC umbrella were often known to only the hardest of hardcore fans. One of those names, whose career came to a close at Bellator 285, was Melvin Manhoef.
Manhoef was unable to get the win, getting knocked out by Yoel Romero to close out his final fight with Bellator. Romero had control of the fight for most of it and eventually got Manhoef on the ground in the third where Romero delivered several crushing elbows and forearm shots to render Manhoef unconscious.
After the fight, the two men exchanged some words and hugged it out. After the fight, Manhoef, still a bit touched up from the knockout, made it known that he was done and was retiring.
I wanted to fight names and I did the best that I could. …Today, I think I have to hang up the gloves after 28 years of fighting…You make me feel alive.
After the fight, his family embraced him after he put down his gloves for the last time, while the crowd cheered the final outing of an MMA legend.
Melvin Manhoef was a man who few people wanted to stand across from
Before arriving in Bellator, Manhoef made his name first in Japan where he competed at two K-1 events and several DREAM events. His strike-first, heavy-handed style made him a must-see T.V. for those who could find the events outside of Japan.
He’s so prolific when it came to his knockouts, Manhoef referred to himself as a “junkie” for the knockout.
He racked up 29 knockouts out of 32 fights, 26 of which were ended in the first round. He scored major wins over Cyborg Santos, Mark Hunt, Kazushi Sakuraba, and Ryo Kawamura. In his losses, he seemingly only lost to the best of the best with the likes of Gegard Mousasi, Robbie Lawler, Rafael Carvalho, and Corey Anderson being some of the only names to beat him.
While championship success was limited, he did win the Cage Rage light heavyweight championship on one occasion and was one of the least desirable draws possible for any of the three Grand Prix that he entered.