Manuwa’s hard-hitting serves him well, most of his bouts won by KO or TKO.
A year ago, on March 8, 2014 Jimi Manuwa lost the main event fight at UFC Fight Night 38 to Alexander Gustafsson. In less than a month we’ll see Jimi in the co-main event at UFC Fight Night in Krakow, Poland, with Mirko Cro Cop and Gabriel Gonzaga set for the main event. The show’s scheduled for April 11 and now is just the time to see why Manuwa was one of the most sought-after fighters several years ago and why he’s one of the most prominent British strikers today.
Like many other UK fighters, Manuwa started his pro MMA career via UCMMA. He was a late bloomer though, his first UCMMA bout happened in 2008 when Jimi was already 27. This vid here shows his fight against Luke Blythe in the main event of UCMMA 6 Payback on August 22, 2009 in London. By that time Manuwa’s record consisted of impressive five wins and no losses, all but one fight ending in the first round, all but one fight won by KO or TKO.
In the first round the opponents were pushing in the clinch until Manuwa was lucky enough to sweep Luke Blythe and land several strikes. However Blythe defended well and endured the pressure in the full guard until the end of the round. After the break Manuwa settled in the center, throwing shots from his right, making Blythe get closer and look for a takedown. Going to the ground didn’t work so when the rivals returned on feet Manuwa landed a left hook which rocked Blythe’s jaw and sent him to the canvas unconscious, half a minute before the end of the second round.
While this fight strengthened Manuwa’s reputation of a hard-hitter, it also exposed a serious lack of stamina, as after nine minutes of fighting Manuwa looked just as exhausted as his rival. However, he kept training, sharpening his one-punch knockout power. Later in one of the interviews Manuwa explained his training approach: “You have to tailor yourself to what type of fighter you are. If you’re a knockout specialist, you’ve got to train your cardio, your core, all your techniques and stuff. It’s all about being repetitive in your training technique, drilling your perfect shot, drilling your favorite shot and just drilling and sparring and seeing what works for you and what doesn’t work for you”.
After his win over Blythe Manuwa was victorious in the cage five times more, making a total of eleven wins. By that time the all-seeing eye of UFC, searching for MMA talents in the Old Continent, caught him and on September 29,2012, Manuwa made a debut in UFC defeating Kyle Kingsbury by TKO (Doctor stoppage). The following wins over Cyrille Diabate and Ryan Jimmo made him a good matchup for Alexander Gustafsson for the main event at UFC Fight Night 38. If the then undefeated Manuwa defeated Gustafsson that would probably have made him one of the top names in the 205 lbs. weight category. However, “The Mauler” stopped Manuwa with a knee strike from the clinch and follow-up punches in the second round.