The fairytale ending didn’t come for Melvin Manhoef.
The Surinamese slugger was finished in the third round of his retirement fight with fellow combat sports veteran Yoel Romero after the Cuban Olympic medalist upped the pace down the stretch with a furious barrage of strikes on the ground soon after landing a takedown against the cage.
𝗥𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗼 𝗦𝗠𝗔𝗦𝗛! 🔥
Devastating ground and pound from @YoelRomeroMMA to score a huge win in Dublin! 🇮🇪#Bellator285 | 🇺🇸 @SHOSports | 🇬🇧 @BBCThree pic.twitter.com/ATGkohqPNP
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) September 23, 2022
It had been a somewhat plodding affair up until that point. Both men — who, remember, are in their mid-40’s — kept a slow pace; a necessary step sometimes with fighters who possess so much power in their fists. Romero was on top throughout, as Manhoef struggled to land much of note. He did find a home for a sequence of leg kicks, and a few strikes down the pipe, but Romero fights generally follow a similar blueprint nowadays: he lulls opponents into thinking they’re safe before exploding into action.
And you can now add Melvin Manhoef to his list of victims. Further challenges remain for the Cuban (perhaps even Karl Moore who is interested) but it is Manhoef who retires with a distinct and admirable legacy from his 51 professional mixed martial arts bouts.
Afterwards, the MMA icon thanked the raucous Dublin for their support as he wiped away the tears.
Enjoy a well deserved retirement, Melvin.