A retired MMA fighter who went out to search for his stolen motorcycle was murdered by suspected drug traffickers in Brazil in a case of mistaken identity.
Diego Braga, 44, who fought in 32 bouts throughout his 16-year professional career, was found dead Monday in the streets of Morro do Banco in Rio de Janeiro, according to Brazilian news outlet G1.
Braga is the father of Brazilian MMA featherweight fighter, and PFL finalist, Gabriel Braga.
“You will always be in my heart and I will continue to honor you until the end, eternal gratitude for everything,” the younger Braga wrote on Instagram, confirming his father’s death. “One day I will hug you again, take care of me as you always did, I love you.”
Braga posted surveillance footage of two thieves stealing a red and black motorcycle from his garage in the residential neighborhood of Muzema on Sunday morning.
“Please share and help me find these bums and get my bike back!!,” Braga pleaded in his final Instagram post.
The Brazilian mixed martial artist then went on the hunt for the missing bike, searching several areas around Rio de Janeiro until he caught the eye of several members of the Comando Vermelho crime organization in the Morro do Banco favela.
The gang members, who are mostly involved in drug and arms trafficking, took Braga hostage when they believed he was a member of a rival militia, the outlet added.
Brazilian military police arrested an 18-year-old Tuesday and allegedly admitted his involvement in Braga’s killing.
Tauã da Silva allegedly told police that members searched through Braga’s phone and found numbers of militants of the rival crime organization Rio das Pedras and Muzema.
“The fighter tried to run, but was caught and killed,” da Silva, who goes by 2B, said, according to the outlet.
The “associates” fled the favela after the murder.
The Capital Homicide Police are now leading the investigation into Braga’s death, and are searching Morro do Banco favela for his killer.
Braga made his professional debut in 2003, fought for a record of 23-8-1 before he retired in 2019.
He fought future UFC fighters including Charles Oliveira, Milton Vieira, and Adriano Martins.
Braga defeated Jamil Silveira by unanimous decision in his final fight on July 26, 2019, in São Paulo, Brazil during at the Future FC 7
Following his retirement, Braga focused on his career as a MMA teacher and coach for his team, Tropa Thai, along with teaching underprivileged children in favelas and being in the corner for his son’s bouts, according to MMAfighting.com.
“Unacceptable for all of us who have had the pleasure of hanging out with and learning from this example of a man!” the Tropa Thai team said in a tribute to Braga posted to social media.