PULL up a ringside seat and prepare for fireworks. Melvin Manhoef is getting ready to rumble in an MMA match at K-1 Dynamite in Japan on New Year's Eve and is determined to put a string of three straight defeats to Robbie Lawler, Gokhan Saki and Tatsuya Mizuno firmly behind him. Fightnewz.net found the refocused Dutch knockout artist in fighting mood ahead of his return to the ring. Photo: Ben Pontier
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: This year must have been difficult for you Melvin, the most difficult time of your career?
MANHOEF: Champions go up and then they go down but real champions will get up.
Itís like this. Iíve had a real bad time and lost a lot of fights - itís been the most difficult period of my career.
You know who your friends are, you know how people think and you know how they do.
If youíre winning, youíve got friends. If you lose youíve got nothing, youíve only got yourself.
The phone has stopped ringing, yeah. Itís no problem, but I donít forget it.
When Iím winning again and Iím going to win again, the phone doesnít have to go, if you understand?
This is my own philosophy of it. Iím going to be a changed person - Iím not going to talk or give interviews.
This is the only interview I've been asked for in a long time - nobody else has but itís no problem.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: You seem really determined to come back with a win in what is an important fight, maybe the most important of your career?
MANHOEF: Absolutely. A win is very important. Itís the most important fight of my
career - one of the most important of my career - I think, but Iím not going to put pressure on myself.
Iíve trained very hard and Iím busy with new things so weíll see what will happen.
I donít know who Iíve got as an opponent but I donít mind, I donít give a fuck.
I donít give a shit. I really want to fight so bad. Before I didnít say things but now Iím going to say what I want, whatís on my heart.
Before I was always polite but now Iím going to go into the ring and take what is mine.
This is the new Melvin. This is what Iím going to do. Iím going to take people down and Iím going to punch them and punish them for real.
I really donít mind who my opponent is. Maybe if the guy is better itís better for me.
To win against someone who is a champion is much better for me to focus myself on.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: Did you think about quitting or did the defeats just give you more determination to come back stronger?
MANHOEF: Of course I thought a little bit about things - weíre all human.
When you have days like these you are like, Ďmaní. Everybody is talking, saying this and that - heís losing it.
I was like, Ďoh fuck'. There were moments when I thought maybe I had to stop.
But Iím young, Iím 34. My body is in good shape, Iím strong.
I sprint with the young guys and when I do training I have more power and everything.
Thatís why I know itís not finished and still I have a new contract with K-1 for three years so Iím going to put the pace high for myself.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: What goals are you setting for yourself then?
MANHOEF: I want to win everything that is coming up now and Iím going to do that also.
We will see what next year is going to bring me.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: Youíve been working with the American boxing coach Barry Robinson. How much has he helped in terms of developing your hands?
MANHOEF: He has been learning me some good stuff. In the gym the other day I was boxing and he he told me a trick I had to do and I knocked out two people with it, so it was very good.
He has been teaching me real boxing things - for me itís good. He is giving me more hand speed and making my punches sharper and more correct.
My punches were always good and hard, but now I need less time to throw a punch.
The punches are shorter and powerful - with more power.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: Looking back to the start of the year and the Robbie Lawler fight - what was your take on what happened? You were destroying him and then walked on to a big shot.
MANHOEF: In free fight or MMA I like to give the big one. When I fight Iím greedy and with the Lawler fight - when I want to finish I want to finish.
I saw his leg and at the moment he was ducking forward and I thought I would go down also because maybe he wanted to take me down and then he got up a little bit.
Then I looked at his leg and thought: ĎNo man, Iím going to take it home with me now!í
Then I opened myself up to kick him and then the punch arrived - pow. Because I looked at his leg I didnít see the punch coming and that was that.
Because I was putting all of my power in the last kick, my hands dropped.
It was stupid. I couldnít relax myself and let him think about the pain in the minute between the rounds.
He would have felt the pain and then in the second round I could have finished him.
But itís only ifs and buts - he knocked me out fair and square and itís just another fight.
But we might maybe meet again, so itís no problem.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET What is your situation with Strikeforce after the Lawler loss then? Have you still got a contract with them?
MANHOEF: I donít know. They want to cut me or something? Maybe I can fight still.
My manager is still negotiating on everything and we will see what is going to happen.
Nothing is clear and Iím not busy with that now.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: Fans all around the world are hoping to see you back to your best.
MANHOEF: Iím still a huge name and Iím a huge person also and Iím going to prove it.
The phone might have stopped ringing but there are still a lot of people and fans who are dying to see me fight.
Also people donít understand that I fought seven or eight fights in a year. Normal people fight three or four times maybe, but I did double.
Itís no excuse, I lost my last few fights and my opponents can enjoy their pride and honour.
Iím not going to say anything else about that, but now Iím going to be back and coming harder than ever.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: Do you think you needed the rest because you've always been so active?
MANHOEF:Yes, because I had a lot of side distractions. Iíve got a management team called Fighting Stars with guys who I manage and we put on a big show (with It's Showtime) in Sporthallen Zuid in Amsterdam .
This is what I was doing. I was busy with some other things, more companies and everything.
After my fights I had to get everything a bit settled for what Iím going to do afterwards, so I was thinking a little bit like that.
That stopped me a little bit because my mind had to be focused on what Iím good at - and thatís fighting.
Fighting was becoming secondary and thatís not possible now because fighting is my money, fighting is my life, fighting is my everything.
I eat, sleep and drink fighting - I fight to live, this is me.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: Youíve called for a rematch with Saki. Why do you want to fight him again in particular?
MANHOEF: I didnít do the things in the fight I had to do. The win is the win - he won fair and square.
Iím not going to take anything away from him because I donít like to make excuses, fuck that.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: How was your confidence going into that fight after the Lawler contest?
MANHOEF: I lost to Remy Bonjasky, beat Kazuo Misaki at the last Dynamite and then fought Robbie Lawler. Then I had to fight again for Itís Showtime so it was fucked up.
But for me it was a good win for Saki. If I won the fight it would have been a good win for myself and now I want to win again.
I wanted to ask for him in particular because it was the last fight I fought in Holland.
When you fight in Holland itís always different - more pressure and prestige - and I want to win one more time.
Because I think it could be a great match and I want to take back what is mine.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: Your upcoming fight is in Saitama, Japan. Youíve obviously had some good times there on New Yearís Eve in the past, knocking out Mark Hunt, Misaki.
MANHOEF: I've had good knockout wins there like Mark Hunt and Iím going back there to do that. Misaki was a good win and Iím proud of the things that Iíve done.
People can say a lot of shit but I know what Iíve done and I know what I can still do.
Iíve knocked out Sakuraba, Misaki, Karaev, Paul Slowinski, a lot of people. For me itís good.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: Are you still going to fight in K-1 kickboxing rules as well as MMA?
MANHOEF: Iím still going to do both but Iím going to put the focus really on MMA.
Because for me if you see in my MMA fights Iím 84 kilos and Iíve got 25 wins and 24 knockouts, something like that.
And if you watch when Iím fighting the heavier guys, the knockout ratio is also high but the losses are also very close by, you understand?
Because the guys are heavier, taller and itís very hard. Thatís why Iím thinking not to fight the heavyweights any more.
But, you know, Saki is out there and if itís possible for me to be in the Final 16 again one more time, it would be an honour to be the smallest guy fighting in the Final 8.
Thatís for me always a thing that I would like to manage and I would like to fight Saki again in Holland, of course.
We will see if it happens or not, we donít know for sure.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: Who do you think will win the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix on December 11?
MANHOEF: Honestly, I donít mind who wins the Grand Prix because Iím not in it, Badr Hari's not in it, so I really donít mind. May the best man win and itís very nice to see who will win.
I like Tyrone Spong and I like Saki, so if itís on personal things I would like to see them do well.
FIGHTNEWZ.NET: How big do you want to make Fighting Stars as a promotional company?
MANHOEF: I want to make it big. I donít want to be in competition with Simon (Rutz) or something but I want to be big.
Simon helps me a lot and we want to make it big, like the second biggest in Holland I think.
Because when my career is finished itís a direction I want to go in. I want to manage fighters and do things like that, I like that.
Maybe after when Iím finished fighting have my own gym and do everything a fighter has to do.
This is what I know best. I canít be a mechanic or something like that. This is what I want to do and I want to make good fights.
What I was missing maybe I can put it in another fighter also.
We are still busy with a gym and maybe I will open it if our latest meeting goes well and everything makes sense financially.
Iím going to go hard with it if we are going to go full with it.
Maybe everything will be okay, it will be nice. But fighting is my primary thing.
Heel erg nieuw is dit interview niet want hij zegt dat het hem niks uit maakt wie er K-1 kampioen word van 2010 want hij en Badr doen niet mee.
Maar, er staan wel een hoop bijzondere dingen in en het is altijd goed om interviews met Melvin te lezen dusse reps.