|Location: 3Arena, Dublin Day: Friday, September 23|
|Network coverage: Live coverage on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website and app from 18:00 BST, with main card also streaming on BBC Three from 21:00 BST|
Melvin Manhoef was in Paris promoting his upcoming match against Yoel Romero when he heard some disturbing news – men may be planning to break into his home.
His wife and children at his home in the Netherlands found sheets of paper pushed under his front door – a trick used by thieves who assume that if the paper is not taken within Within a few days, no one will be home.
After his family checked the neighbor’s camera footage, they spotted a man they didn’t recognize laying papers and a car waiting around that they had never seen before.
Manhoef immediately rushed home.
Manhoef, 46, told BBC Sport: “At the time, my wife and children didn’t feel safe because they didn’t know what could happen.
After arriving home, while the family was out, Manhoef decided to wait in the car outside his house in hopes of asking the man if he would come again.
More than an hour later, three men appeared in the vehicle Manhoef had seen on the video. They spotted Manhoef and drove off.
Manhoef chases them, crashes their car in the street and arrests all three men before the police arrive.
“What I did was very dangerous but to protect my family I did what I had to do,” he said.
“I got out of the car and screamed, went crazy saying ‘my family’, this and that, and I went over to their car and threw a punch through the window, opening my whole hand.
“I caught them, I yelled and pulled them out. I didn’t hit them, but I have to say, I’m about to lose my mind.”
Manhoef said he was driving “about 120km/h” (75mph) down residential roads to catch the men.
He is not facing any charges over the March incident.
“I know it’s a risk [to speed] But it’s to protect the family. It’s not good, but adrenaline takes over. This is who I am and I want to protect my family,” he said.
“I talked to them [while he waited for the police to arrive] ‘Listen, do something with your life, but not this, man. Don’t steal from people. I know life is hard but don’t do this’. “
Manhoef injured his hand when punching through a car window causing his match against Romero to be postponed.
The rescheduled light-heavyweight bout, which will be Manhoef’s 51st and final fight in 27 years of MMA career, will take place at Bellator 285 in Dublin on Friday.
‘It was an honor to fight Romero’
Since Manhoef made his debut in 1995, he has won 32 games, lost 15, drawn one with two games that ended inconclusive.
His last game was a loss to Corey Anderson in 2020.
Manhoef has gone through a lot of change during his career in MMA, where a sport and its athletes that were once marginalized in most parts of the world are now thriving. .
Manhoef remains grateful that he was able to turn his passion for fighting into his profession.
“The crazy thing is we get paid well now. It was a lot less then,” he said.
“The sport is really accepted now, and people see you as a real athlete.
“Of course, you don’t play sports for the money, you start as a hobby, then you get into work, and then it’s a job.
He continued: “We’ve put our lives in danger and done a lot of things. This year I broke my jaw, my thumb, my shin split, a lot of things, but you get it. well paid for it and i like it .
“It’s my passion so I’m glad I can turn my passion into my work.”
In Cuba’s Romero, Manhoef faced an opponent like himself, a veteran of the sport.
Romero, 45, is a former UFC middleweight champion who made his debut in 2009 following a wrestling background.
His last fight is a overwhelming victory over Alex Polizzi at Bellator 280 in Paris, in May.
“He [Romero] Manhoef said.
“He’s also a guy who’s played a lot in sports, especially wrestling. It’s been an honor to fight him.
“We can do our thing and see who is the best. This is the most exciting thing for a boxer because that’s what you want to know. You want to be the best so you have to fight the best. .”