On September 19 Bellator is treating the MMA community to one hell of a main event, when Doug ‘The Rhino’ Marshall takes on long time MMA and kickboxing vet Melvin Manhoef. For those that are unaware, both fighters have a fan friendly style of staying in the pocket and hurling vicious hooks, uppercuts and knees with the worst of intentions. While MMA can be a very random sport with surprising outcomes, it’s almost impossible to imagine a fight between these two that doesn’t result in fireworks.
Melvin Manhoef has been a favorite fighter of mine to watch for a long time and if you’ve seen him fight it’s not hard to figure out why. In an evolving landscape many MMA fighters focus on getting the win more so then putting on exciting fights. That is clearly not the case with Melvin. Always one to take a risk in search of the KO, Melvin fights his opponents like they just stole something from him.
Sadly many American fans might not be as familiar with Melvin and his normal berserker style because his most high profile fights in the states were loses to Robbie Lawler and Tim Kennedy, respectfully. Don’t let those losses fool you though, Melvin has KO’ed some of the very best in the business as well, adding the scalps of Mark Hunt, Kazushi Sakuraba, Evangelista Santos (twice) and former Pride Grand Prix Champion Kazuo Misaki. A match up with Doug Marshall is a great way to attempt to reintroduce the America audience to one of the more exciting fighters Holland has to offer. However, this is far from a showcase fight. Doug Marshal has proven he’s also a dangerous, exciting and capable fighter in his own right.
Doug Marshall has also been around for a long time, cutting his teeth in the early days of the WEC. In those days Doug was punching out the competition as a heavyweight and earned a nice win against fellow Bellator Heavyweight Lavar Johnson before losing to a surging James Irvin for the WEC Heavyweight Title. After that, fight Doug moved to light heavyweight and captured the WEC title and successfully defended it until he ran into Brain Stann. When Doug got the call to compete in Bellator he went on an impressive 4 fight winning streak earning him a shot at current Bellator Middleweight Champ and master of post fight interviews Alexander Shlemenko. Unfortunately, the fight didn’t go Doug’s way and now he’s getting the opportunity to regain some of his past momentum.
On paper the matchup is fantastic. Both fighters’ styles mash well together to create what could be not only fight of the night but potentially fight of the year. Also, both fighters could really use this win. Doug needs to show the Bellator fans that the loss to Shlemenko shouldn’t discount him as a contender and a good showing against Melvin can do just that. Whereas Melvin is making his Bellator debut and getting a big KO win over the last challenger for the Middleweight belt will go a long way to proving that he’s ready for his own title shot. Personally after analyzing the fight I’m leaning towards Melvin being able to get the KO win here. Doug had been on a hot streak and, besides the loss to Shlemenko, has been looking better than ever while throwing down in the Bellator cage. Marshall has, however, lost a number of times due to KO. In a firefight I give a slight edge to Melvin, but with two guys like this and the power they contain in their fists, it really is anyone’s fight to win.
The It’s MMAzing crew will be at this event live from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA. Also on tap you have returning Bellator vet Brian Rogers taking on newcomer Rafael Carvalho, prospect Goiti Yamauchi against Martin Stapleton and lastly a heavyweight tilt when Javy Ayala meets Raphael Butler. Make sure to tune in on Spike to watch the main card and Spike.com to catch all the prelim action beforehand. Remember to follow our Twitter account as we live tweet from the event and make sure to catch our 100th episode of It’s MMAzing radio as we break down the card.