Photo: World Fighting League

Melvin Manhoef was the big winner at Sunday’s WFL: The Final 16. “No Mercy” beat rival Remy Bonjasky for the first time in their fourth encounter by decision.

The fight acted as Manhoef’s kickboxing retirement bout with the 41-year-old now seeking to fulfil his remaining MMA commitments (he still has two or three fights remaining on his Bellator contract) before completely bringing down the curtain on an illustrious career in combat sports.

After a close first round that could have gone either way, Manhoef turned up the pace in the second round, taking a more aggressive approach and a higher volume of strikes. The third round went Bonjasky’s way, who came forward and scored with his patented kicks.

It all came down to who won the first three minutes of the match, in a round which Manhoef was tentative to come forward and exchange blows, while Bonjasky scored from distance with kicks.

But in the eyes of the official at ringside his output in the opening round was enough for “No Mercy”, who fell on his knees after the judge’s decision was announced to retire on a high with a win over his nemesis.

Bonjasky, who came out of his second retirement for this fight, won the three previous encounters with Manhoef in 2002, 2008 and 2009 told MMA Plus after Saturday’s weigh-ins he doesn’t know if he will continue fighting after Sunday.

7 participants advance to quarterfinals

The first round of the 16-men heavyweight tournament took place on the event’s undercard and would get off to a rapid start as Fabio Kwasi and Levi Rigters would both score quick TKO wins over Serkan Ozcaglayan and Redouan Cairo respectively.

After that, Sam Tevette beat Dutch veteran Reamon Welboren, Andrei Stoica eliminated Sahak Parparyan and Tarek Khbabez won an enjoyable fight with Nordine Mahieddine with all fights ending in unanimous decision.

Controversy surrounded the sixth bout of the tournament bouts, which was undoubtedly the most exciting match of the card. Dutch veteran Fred Sikking beat Boy Boy Martin by split-decision, but it could (or maybe should) have gone easily the other way.

Before the rematch, Sikking talked to MMA Plus about feeling robbed after his first encounter with Martin in 2015. This way, it was the other way around.

Martin scored big points with kicks to Sikking’s legs, who heavily taped his left calf and ankle. The attacks forced “The Piranha” to switch stances multiple times throughout the fight and also gave openings for Martin to aim high and put his opponent on the ropes multiple times.

But it wasn’t enough, as Martin was unable to score a knockdown and Sikking was announced as the winner.

Martin wasn’t happy and turned his attention to the judges in his post-fight interview. “All I have to say: he (Sikking) won because he sold more tables,” a frustrated Martin said in the microphone.

In the final tournament bout, Peter Aerts protege Murat Aygün, one of the favourites to win the grand prize of 100.000 euro, beat Henriques Zowa by decision.

With his win over Bonjasky, Manhoef also moved into the quarterfinals on paper, but “No Mercy”, founder and matchmaker of WFL, told MMA Plus beforehand he would replace himself by a wild card fighter.

The date and match-ups for the quarterfinals and the wildcard fighter will be announced in the near-future.