Melvin Manhoef's been at this game nearly 20 years. Between an MMA career which dates back to 1995 and a decorated kickboxing career starting in 1996, the Surinamese Dutch resident has more than 90 documented fights on his resume.
And the 38-year-old still has lightning in his fists.
Manhoef knocked former WEC champion Doug Marshall cold Friday night in the main event of Bellator 125. A big right hook to the sweet spot behind the ear caused Marshall to go crashing face fist to to the mat at Fresno's SavMart Center.
"I couldn't plan anything better," Manhoef said. "These are great fighters, all respect to Doug."
(via Zombie Prophet)
It was clear from the outset that Manhoef was the sharper striker. Marshall (18-8), of nearby Visalia, Calif., managed to stay out just out of harm's way as Manhoef fired lasers. But eventually, Manhoef found his range, and it was just a matter of time. The end came at just 1 minute, 45 seconds.
The victory moved Manhoef to 29-11-1 (1 NC) in MMA. Between MMA and kickboxing, it was his 63d combat sports knockout.
The main event also marked a clean sweep of first-round finishes for the main card.
In the co-feature, Brian Rogers got off to a fast start in his middleweight matchup against late replacement Rafael Carvalho, landing with a series of strikes and making the Rio de Janeiro native cover up.
But Carvalho (9-1) came roaring back for a first-round TKO in his Bellator debut. He opened up with a series of uncontested punches to the head of Rogers, who was on his feet but slumping against the cage. Referee Marco Rosales waved off the bout via TKO at 3:06.
Carvalho has won nine straight since dropping his first career fight. Rogers (11-7), who was first scheduled to meet James Irvin, then Brett Cooper, before finally getting Carvalho, has dropped three of his past four.
Ayala, of Porterville, Calif., rocked Butler back into the cage with a left-fight combo, picked him up for a slam, and quickly maneuvered into a rear-naked choke. Butler (8-1-1), a 30-year old Chicago native, tapped at 1:03 of the first round, as Butler (8-3) improved to 3-0 in Bellator.
"It feels amazing right now, to be on TV and to perform like that," said Ayala. "I trained hard for four months for that. My last three guys I fought are tough guys. I'm here and I'm going to be one of the top guys."
The Japan native, who fights out of Curitiba, Brazil, spent the majority of the bout working for submissions, getting Stapleton's back on the ground, seizing a body triangle, and finally getting in the rear-naked choke. Stapleton tapped at 4:37 of the opening round and Yamauchi had his 14th career submission
"I love the ground game," said Yamauchi. "I am training hard for a a title shot. I respect all the names in the [featherweight] division, but I'm not afraid of them. I want to be champion."