Melvin Manhoef’s retirement did not last long. The legendary Dutch kickboxer and mixed martial artist made a comeback this week participating in a bizarre ‘moat fight’ in Tokyo.
The event at the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan was billed as Inoki Bom Ba Ye x Ganryujima. For several of the fights there was no ring, instead the square fighting are was open and surrounded by a smoke filled moat.
The moat was presumably padded but it means fighters had the opportunity to do this to their opponents:
This was absolutely insane pic.twitter.com/mgPmHNlJPy
— Marc Raimondi (@marcraimondi) December 28, 2022
That wasn’t Manhoef’s fate though. A ring had been put up by the time he fought but he still suffered a first round submission loss at the hands of Brazilian Igor Tanabe who finished him with a heel hook in the first round.
It isn’t clear whether the results will appear on a fighter’s official record. But Manhoef wasn’t the only recognizable face on the card, UFC veteran Josh Barnett and K-1 veteran Albert Kraus were both in action.
Barnett finished Shoma Shibisai with ground and pound after hurting the up and coming Rizin star with a knee. Kraus looked a shadow of himself as he was beaten by Usami Hide Meison.
— U-NEXT 格闘技 公式 (@UNEXT_fight) December 28, 2022
Inoki Bom Ba Ye has held some big shows at the end of the year featuring the likes of Mirko Crocop and Shinya Aoki. But this year’s event was the first since the death of founder Antonio Inoki in October.
The wrestler turned politician passed away at the age of 79. His promotion, known as IGF, put on events from 2007 until 2018 which primarily consisted of wrestling matches but also featured some of the best mixed martial artists in the world.
This show was a tribute to Inoki, a figure who has loomed large over the combat sport scene in Japan for several decades. His son, Simon Inoki, remains in the business and launched his own wrestling promotion a few years ago which was aimed at the Chinese market.