Melvin Manhoef is nearing 40 years of age, and has long and decorated careers in MMA and kickboxing to show for it. And yet, five minutes into our conversation it was clear that, to Melvin, age ain't nothing but a number.
"I’ve cried, I’ve died and there was never a time that I enjoyed it as much as now. " Melvin told Champions.co. "I enjoy the training. It’s fun. I had so much pleasure during this camp, which I never had [before]."
Perhaps his rediscovered passion stems from the opportunity to solidify his career with the one thing it's been missing, a Bellator title.
"This opportunity is tremendous," he said of fighting champ Rafael Carvalho for the belt. "At this point, it’s only fun. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it."
Melvin will have his work cut out for him as he goes on to face Carvalho, who has a seven-inch height advantage. Yet being the smaller dog in the fight is nothing new for the 5-foot-8-inch fighter.
"I'm used to this. Since day one, I’ve been fighting bigger guys. I know how to handle it," Manhoef said.
I must say, I was a bit intimidated to interview a man given the nickname "No Mercy." Luckily for me, Melvin didn't receive that nickname for his treatment of fans. Quite the opposite, actually. The more we talked, the more he morphed from an intimidating fight veteran, to proud father and gracious gym owner.
So much so, that if he were to win the belt at Bellator 155, something he's worked for his entire career, he said, "I would dedicate it to my family."
He added, "It’s all for my family. It’s a blessing and an honor. They have to put up with me and my training."
The pressure leading up to a pinnacle event like this must be insane, so how does somebody like Melvin unwind? Well, he throws on his headphones and listens to the smooth sounds of Andre Haze, a pioneer of the Dutch genre called "levenslied," which Melvin describes as "music about life – living life." Which couldn't be more appropriate for a man who seems to be riding this wave, while taking it all in, both in life and in the cage.
It's just like Andre Haze would say ... actually, I have no idea what he is saying. But if it's good enough for Melvin, it's good enough for me!
(Image via MMAWeekly.com)