NEW YORK (January 6, 2009)- Knockout artists “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (16-5) and Melvin “No Mercy” Manhoef (24-6-1) will square off with each other in a middleweight (185 pounds) contest at the STRIKEFORCE: Miami mixed martial arts (MMA) event at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday, January 30. Wrestling powerhouses Joe “Diesel” Riggs (32-10) and Jay “The Thoroughbred” Hieron (18-4) will face off at welterweight (170 pounds).
The 27-year-old Lawler, one of MMA’s most explosive punchers, will attempt to rebound from the first round (2:02) submission (guillotine choke) he suffered at the hands of Jake Shields in the main event the first-ever STRIKEFORCE fight card in St. Louis, Missouri on Saturday, June 6, 2009.
One fight prior to the meeting with Shields, Lawler, who hails from Granite City, Illinois, thrilled millions of fans when he unleashed his wrath on Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith in the main event of the live, CBS primetime televised event held in Stockton, California on July 26, 2008.
Born in San Diego, California, Lawler relocated with his family to Bettendorf, Iowa where, at the age of 16, he became a protégé of MMA legend Pat Miletich. Just three years later, Lawler exploded onto the MMA scene, emerging victorious in his first seven starts.
Lawler’s second round KO of Steve Berger at UFC 37.5 on June 22, 2002 made history when it became the first MMA fight ever to air on cable television during an episode of Fox Sports Net’s The Best Damn Sports Show, Period.
A seven time veteran of UFC action, Lawler also made a splash in the now-defunct PRIDE Fighting Championships when he scored a crushing knockout on Joey Villasenor with a flying knee a mere 22 seconds into their matchup at Las Vegas, Nevada’s Thomas and Mack Center on October 21, 2006.
Manhoef, one of STRIKEFORCE’s newest signees who hails from Amsterdam, Netherlands, notched his latest conquest just days ago at the annual New Year’s Eve K-1 “Dynamite!” event in Japan when he scored a first round (1:49) TKO on former top 10 ranked Kazuo Misaki with a barrage of punches.
His arrival in STRIKEFORCE comes after Manhoef reached the semifinal round of the 2008 DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix tournament by scoring first round TKOs on Dae Won Kim and legendary champion Kazushi Sakuraba on May 11, 2008 and June 15, 2008 respectfully.
His well-known battle cry “When I fight, I am willing to die” has translated into Manhoef’s explosive style of fighting, one that has helped him earn 22 of his 30 career MMA wins and 27 of his 45 career kickboxing victories by way of knockout.
Manhoef’s tenure in K-1, the world’s premiere stand-up fighting league, dates back to February 24, 2002. During his tenure with the Japanese promotion, he has triumphed over the likes of former K-1 tournament champions Stefan Leko and Ruslan Karaev, whom Manhoef crushed with a left hook only 31 seconds into their meeting in Amsterdam on June 23, 2007.
Riggs, a 27 year old native of Phoenix, Arizona, will attempt to extend a four fight win streak that began with his second round (2:05) TKO of Luke Stewart in a STRIKEFORCE: Destruction bout at HP Pavilion in San Jose, California on November 21, 2008.
In his last effort under the STRIKEFORCE banner, Riggs dominated hard-hitting “The New York Badass” Phil Baroni for three consecutive rounds of action before walking away with a unanimous judges’ decision victory at St. Louis’ Scottrade Center on June 6, 2009.
Hieron, a former nationally ranked NCAA wrestler for Hofstra University, has been victorious in each of his last six starts. The Long Island, New York native made his STRIKEFORCE debut in his last effort, earning a unanimous decision win over Jesse “J.T. Money” Taylor at HP Pavilion on August 15, 2009.
A former troubled teen, Hieron has since become an inspiration, winning a world title with the now defunct International Fight League (IFL) and relocating to Las Vegas in order to train with the fight squad headed by MMA legend Randy “The Natural” Couture.
In the main event, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Nick Diaz (20-7) of Stockton, California will take on fellow superstar and DREAM welterweight (170 pounds) champion Marius “The Whitemare” Zaromskis (13-3) of Siaulial, Lithuania at welterweight.
STRIKEFORCE Women’s World Lightweight (145 pounds) Champion Cris Cyborg (8-1) of Curitiba, Brazil will put her title on the line against Marloes Coenen (17-3) of Deventer, Holland.
Football legend Herschel Walker (0-0) will make his highly-anticipated MMA debut against an opponent that has yet to be determined. Undefeated heavyweight and former WWE champion Bobby Lashley (4-0) will make his STRIKEFORCE debut during the event.
Doors at BankAtlantic Center will open for the event at 6:30 p.m. The first non-televised, preliminary bout will begin at 7:30 p.m.
The live SHOWTIME telecast of STRIKEFORCE: Miami will begin at 10 pm ET/PT (delayed on the west coast) and will include as many as five bouts.
STRIKEFORCE in March 2009 signed a multi-year agreement to stage live MMA events on the premium cable television network. The promotion made its live, primetime debut on CBS with the “Fedor vs. Rogers” mega-fight that it co-promoted with M-1 Global on Saturday, November 7
and generated 5.46 million viewers for the main event between the world’s number one heavyweight, Fedor Emelianenko, and superstar Brett “The Grim” Rogers.