Strikeforce announced today that Melvin “No Mercy” Manhoef (24-8-1) will replace an injured Luke Rockhold to face Tim Kennedy (12-3) in a featured middleweight contest on their March 5th card from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Rockhold withdrew after suffering an injury to his left leg during training.
“Man, this is beyond really disappointing,” said Rockhold, a winner of six in a row. “I’d been feeling great and working hard and was really pumped for the fight with Kennedy.
“I know injuries are part of the game, but I want to fight. That’s what I do. It’s pretty swollen now, but once my leg is 100 percent I’m coming back with a vengeance.”
For Manhoef, who has registered KO or TKO victories in all but one of his 24 victories, the fight is his second start for Strikeforce. In his debut on Jan. 30, 2010, Manhoef had mostly manhandled hard-hitting, former two-time world champion Robbie Lawler before getting caught and losing in the first round. Manhoef, a winner in seven of his last 11, has participated in more than 60 professional fights between MMA and kickboxing, but is seeking his first MMA victory in the United States.
“I come to fight and give my very best,” the 5-foot-8, 34-year-old Manhoef said. “I am very, very hungry. I need to win this fight. I am looking forward to fighting Tim Kennedy.”
The popular Kennedy is an American military hero who’s toured the Middle East multiple times, and earned the Army’s Bronze Medal Star medal for valor under fire. The bout will be his first since losing a close, hard-fought decision to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in a fight for the then-vacant STRIKEFORCE middleweight title last August. That defeat ended a four-fight winning streak for Kennedy, who has split two fights against Jason “Mayhem” Miller.