Veteran MMA fighter Melvin Manhoef is set to retire after Bellator 285 in Dublin, Ireland. The light heavyweight will have his final fight against fellow MMA veteran Yoel Romero in the co-main event on Sept. 23. 

The fight was originally scheduled to take place in May but Manhoef pulled out due to a hand injury. Now, the 46-year-old will return to the octagon for the first time in nearly two years. 

Manhoef spoke with the media at the Bellator 285 pre-fight press conference, where he announced his intentions to retire. It will be the last fight in his 26-year career. 

Yeah, I think it’s going to be it. It’s the last fight of my contract with Bellator and I think I’ve done a lot of things,” Manhoef said. ”There’s also time to go and I think this is a great opponent to say farewell to all the fans because this fight is epic. It’s going to be a hard fight…the fans will be the winner.” (Transcribed via MMANews).

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Melvin Manhoef Has Enjoyed His Two-Decade Career: “I Think I Have Given People A Lot of Fun to Watch”

The Surinamese-born fighter is 32-15-1 with 2 no contests in his MMA career. 29 of his wins have been knockouts. Along with Bellator, he has competed for One FC, Strikeforce, K-1, DREAM, RINGS, and KSW

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Manhoef last fought in Nov. 2020 where he faced Corey Anderson in a losing effort. He is 3-3 in his last six fights. 

The MMA veteran is motivated to put on a show for the fans against a tough opponent in Yoel Romero. Before signing with Bellator in 2020, Romero had fought for Strikeforce and UFC. The 45-year-old is coming off a TKO win over Alex Polizzi at Bellator 280 in May. 

Everything in life has a beginning and an end. Hopefully, in his next and future life as a family man, he contributes to society with everything this sport has put in him [like] discipline, dedication and respect,” Romero said. “When we’re in the ring, It is what it is. I come to do my job and I hope he does his.” (English translation by Marc Ray).

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Manhoef admits that it’s hard to say goodbye to MMA but is poised to get one final win to wrap up his career.

I’m going to be there and do the best I can and enjoy what I do all the time [by] hurting people and knocking people out,” Manhoef said. “I really felt alive when I was doing this training camp [but] I’ve been doing this for 28 years now so it’s hard. I have to leave it to the next generation.

Marc Ray has lived his entire life in Houston, Texas, where he was born, raised and attended the University of Houston, studying broadcast journalism. As you may imagine, he spends much of his time watching mixed martial arts as part of his daily routine — not only to pump himself up, but also because he deeply enjoys the sport. Ray has worked for Houston Public Media, where he interned in the newsroom and produced community stories. Ray also created sports features in Houston for El Gato Media Network and occasionally produced content for an internship at AARP.