Melvin Manhoef is a violent man.
That's a fact that could be easy to forget, given the kickboxer's recent history inside the Bellator MMA cage. After making his promotional debut at Bellator 125 with a vicious knockout of Doug Marshall, Manhoef stumbled with consecutive defeats, getting brutally knockout out by Joe Schilling and Alexander Shlemenko.
While Shlemenko's win would be overturned due to the presence of an anabolic steroid in his post-fight drug test, the image of Manhoef's unconscious body was tough to shake, and many fight fans and critics alike wondered if he should just hang up the gloves and ride away from the sport before it fully devastated him.
Against Hisaki Kato at Bellator 146, Manhoef reminded the combat sports world why he continues to cash his checks inside the cage. In a fight characterized by periods of total non-activity, pure chaos and nothing in between, Manhoef emerged victorious.
While Kato stood up to several explosive shots and continued to toss heat of his own throughout Round 1, it was a perfect left hook from Manhoef that shut off the lights and stamped the victory. Manhoef didn't show any new wrinkles in this bout – we knew he'd willingly engage in a slugfest, and we knew he owned massive knockout power – and the story remains the same: When Manhoef fights, you should watch, because somebody is going down.
Before Manhoef and Kato took the cage, lightweight Brandon Girtz (14-4) successfully set the stage for their high-octane showdown, scoring a ferocious knockout of Derek Campos (15-6). Less than one minute into their co-main-event tilt, Girtz clipped Campos and followed up with some brutal hammerfists that forced the referee to intervene.
Campos previously defeated Girtz via unanimous decision at Bellator 96 in June of 2013, but Girtz erased that memory with authority in this latest victory. With the win, Girtz runs his winning streak to three, defeating Benny Madrid, Melvin Guillard and Campos in succession.
"I'm going to start taking them [the lightweight division's fighters] out, one by one," Girtz told Bellator MMA commentator Jimmy Smith inside the cage during his post-fight interview.
In the night's hotly anticipated matchup between stud wrestlers Bubba Jenkins (10-2) and Jordan Parsons (11-2), it was a high kick that created the fight's most dramatic moment. Jenkins caught Parsons' jaw flush in Round 2, sending his opponent tumbling awkwardly to the canvas. It looked like the fight would come to an end right there, but Parsons persevered and continued to fire back until the final bell, only to lose via split decision on the scorecards. You can check out the ferocious kick and some other highlights from this featherweight scrap here:
Elsewhere on the Bellator 146 main card, Chidi Njokuani (14-4, one no-contest) kicked off his Bellator stint with a victory over Ricky Rainey (11-3). While Rainey controlled the action on the feet in Round 1, Njokuani landed a massive blow in the second frame that forced his opponent's right eye to swell. Visibly affected by the shot, Rainey turned to a grappling-heavy approach for the remainder of the fight. Despite scoring two takedowns in Round 3 and avoiding any serious further damage from Njokuani, the cageside judges saw it unanimously in favor of the 26-year-old striker. It wasn't the worst call of all time, but Rainey appeared to have the fight sealed as it went to the scorecards. So it goes in MMA.
Kicking off the main card on Spike, Guilherme Viana (7-2) put Houston Alexander (16-13-1, 2 no-contests) on wobbly legs with a short left hook in Round 1 and dominated the action en route to a TKO victory. Alexander sustained a cut that forced the doctor to call off the fight between the second and third rounds. While the 43-year-old expressed some disappointment in the stoppage, it was ultimately for the best, as he showed little resistance throughout the 10-minute tilt.