Video of San Diego MMA fighter taking down suspected burglar goes viral

A man suspected of burglarizing a City Heights home on Monday likely regretted his decision after a resident — who happens to also be an experienced mixed martial arts fighter — spotted him and took him down.

A video of the incident, recorded by a neighbor, had been viewed more than 86,000 times as of 7 p.m. Monday.

Sergio Hernandez and his father had just returned from a trip to a mechanic when he spotted a stranger in the backyard of their 40th Street property.

“It was shocking,” Hernandez said. “He was just standing there, inside my yard.”

When Hernandez asked the man what he was doing, he said he was running from a dog. That’s when Hernandez noticed a nearby window was open, the screen on the ground.

The man bolted over a fence and Hernandez took off after him. When he caught up, Hernandez tried to convince the man to come talk to his father.

Hernandez had watched his dad resolve disputes before, even ones that involved a crime, without involving law enforcement. Once, when Hernandez was younger, another kid stole his bike. Instead of calling police, he said his father did a little “’hood investigating,” ultimately identifying the thief and persuading him to give the bike back.

This time, though, his father wanted to see the suspect in handcuffs. Hernandez said the alleged burglar ransacked three rooms in the house before fleeing.

Hearing that police were on the way, the man tried to get away, Hernandez said. That’s when Hernandez threw the man to the ground and put him in a triangle choke, which can be seen in a video of the encounter.

“It took at least five minutes for the cops to show up,” Hernandez said. “It may not seem like a long time, but when you’re holding a giant guy who's trying not go to jail, it feels like forever.”

Hernandez said he’s been practicing jujitsu for 13 years, and won a world title as a brown belt about four years ago. He’s also competed in four professional MMA fights.

When he’s not honing his fighting skills — either in the ring or against suspected criminals — he’s tattooing with his wife at their shop, Pop’s Tattoos in City Heights.

Hernandez said he’s just grateful no one was seriously hurt.

“I think the right thing happened, him going to jail,” he said. “I just didn’t want to take him at his word that he wasn’t going to do it again. I hope he doesn’t have any hard feelings.”

Twitter: @LAWinkley

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