Look out. Melvin Manhoef—one of the most dangerous knockout artists in MMA history—is in the United States. And he's training with the vaunted Black House MMA team, the Brazil-based home of current and former champions like Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Could a UFC debut be far behind? Manhoef certainly seems to hope so.
"I think everyone would want to fight in the UFC," Manhoef told journalist Ariel Helwani Monday on The MMA Hour broadcast. "I'm a fighter who wants to entertain people, so for me it would be nice to fight in the UFC. If the chance is there I'm going to do it 100 percent. For every fighter it's an achievement on his road."
The new alliance began to coalesce about a year ago, when Manhoef said he struck up a relationship with Black House co-founders Ed Soares and Jorge Guimaraes.
"Like a year ago, me and Ed and Jorge started to talk," Manhoef said. "They said 'yeah, you have to come and train with us.' They're helping me now...we have a commitment with each other."
A former kickboxer, Manhoef (27-9-1-1) has earned 25—or 93 percent—of his pro MMA wins by knockout or technical knockout. After going winless over a four-fight stretch between 2010 and 2012 and subsequently facing retirement questions, Manhoef, 36, won three straight in the final four months of 2012, capping the run on New Year's Eve with a knee-to-the-body knockout of UFC and Pride veteran Denis Kang.
Despite having a pro MMA career reaching back to 1995, Manhoef has never fought in the UFC Octagon.
But the first order of business with Black House, Manhoef said, is helping new gym-mate Machida prepare for his light heavyweight showdown with bomber Dan Henderson at UFC 157. The training appears to be taking place at Black House MMA's California facility.
Manhoef also confirmed during the interview that he is planning to fight April 5 under the ONE Fighting Championship banner.
Manhoef said he hopes to fight several times in 2013. And if the UFC comes calling, the Dutch-Surinamese middleweight said he would be well-prepared, despite being at an age that might suggest he's past his prime in the sport. A substandard ground game has always been Manhoef's main Achilles' heel. Working with Black House jiu-jitsu standouts like Silva and Roger Gracie would surely help him on that front.
"I'm getting stronger every day," Manhoef said. "My speed is not normal...My ground is getting better and I'm doing it more."
Manhoef said he's willing to fight at welterweight as well as his natural middleweight. Not surprisingly, he told Helwani that if he had his druthers, he'd opt for a slugfest in the UFC, suggesting matchups with noted strikers like Michael Bisping and Wanderlei Silva.
"I like to fight fighters who stand and brawl," Manhoef said. "Bisping is one of those guys. Wanderlei is one of those guys."
Manhoef, who said he has fights in the works with Polish promotion KSW as well as ONE FC, indicated he is not contractually prohibited from competing in the Octagon.
"The only thing missing is the UFC," Manhoef said. "If it happens it happens, and I want it to happen."
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!