Melvin Manhoef. Photo courtesy of Fighting and Entertainment Group.
Fighting and Entertainment Group, the parent company of DREAM, has announced that two-time K-1 kickboxing champion Jerome LeBanner will not be able to participate in his bout against Mark Hunt at FieLDS Dynamite!! 2008 tomorrow after being hospitalized with the flu.
Melvin Manhoef has been tapped to replace the Frenchman and will fight for the first time since announcing that he was entering into a temporary retirement following a disappointing first-round submission loss to eventful DREAM middleweight grand prix winner Gegard Mousasi in September.
Prior to his loss to Mousasi, Manhoef had defeated Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba in the tournament’s quarterfinal round. Manhoef, a native of Holland, also owns career victories over Ian Freeman and Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos.
Hunt and LeBanner fought each other on four separate occasions during Hunt’s short stint in K-1, and this event would have marked the first time that the two would have met in a mixed martial arts bout.
After spending years as a kickboxer with K-1, Hunt switched over to MMA in 2004 and immediately made a splash with decision wins over Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Cro Cop. However Hunt has struggled in recent years, losing his last three fights. Hunt most recently fell to Alistair Overeem via first-round submission in July.
LeBanner has not fought under MMA rules since knocking out Jimmy Ambriz at a K-1 Hero’s show in March 2006. LeBanner’s other career MMA highlights include a KO win over judo wizard Yoshihiro Akiyama and a draw against Japanese fan-favorite and former NFL lineman Bob Sapp.
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