It’s hard for Anthony Smith to put into words the emotions he felt after his wife woke him up in a panic this past Sunday morning to tell him an intruder had broken into their Omaha, Neb., home.
The incident took place just past 4 a.m. on Sunday when a man later identified by the Douglas County (Neb.) sheriff’s department as Luke Haberman walked into Smith’s home through an open garage door after allegedly entering another house in the same neighborhood just minutes earlier.
“My wife wakes me up and just hits me hard and says, ‘Anthony, someone’s in the house,’” Smith said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “So I sat up, and I heard a man’s voice screaming from somewhere deep and dark. I said this before, but I’ve never heard a man scream like that or a person. It was so dark and it was terrifying.
“You’ve just got to go find out what it is. I’ve got to get out there. So I turned the corner and there’s a strange man standing in computer room about 15-ish feet from me. He’s kind of flexing at me and he’s walking my way and he’s just screaming at the top of his lungs. I just took off. I decided to run him over. That’s where the chaos started.”
According to the 31-year-old light heavyweight contender, he ended up on the ground with the intruder as he began throwing punches and elbows in an attempt to subdue him.
At the same time, Smith’s wife was rushing to protect their three daughters and her mother, who was also in the house when the incident happened. A call was placed to 911 while Smith was struggling to maintain control of the assailant, who was still struggling to break free despite being hit repeatedly.
In those first few moments, Smith was convinced that he was going to be shot or stabbed and he was just trying to hurt the intruder as much as possible so his family would still be safe.
“Listen, when I engaged him, I was positive he had a weapon,” Smith said. “I thought he’s going to have a gun or a knife. Nobody comes in your house at four in the morning with no weapons, right? I’m thinking he’s here to hurt me and he’s coming my way so my plan was — it sounds morbid — but I was just trying to cave his head in as quickly as possible.
“Because I was sure that there was going to be a gunshot that went off shortly, and I needed to do as much damage as I could to make sure that when the ensuing death that I thought was coming my way — it sounds stupid now, but at the time, that’s how it felt — if he stabbed me in the stomach or shot me in the chest in the scuffle, I needed to do as much damage as I could to make sure that my family could get out, or at the very least finish him off.”
Thankfully the intruder did not have a weapon on him, but Smith says he was still nearly impossible to control as the scuffle continued for the better part of six minutes until local police finally arrived on the scene.
Even after police entered the residence, Smith says they still struggled to control Haberman, who was constantly fighting back until he worked with two different police officers to hold onto his wrists to put on a set of handcuffs.
“I was shocked he was able to absorb the punishment,” Smith said. “Honestly, I don’t even care. I’ll tell the truth. I was trying to crack his skull. Elbows and punches and dropping knees like I was [Quinton] “Rampage” Jackson. It was everything I had.
“I gave him everything I had until I realized he didn’t have a weapon, [and] that’s when I backed off a little bit. But for those first few minutes when I thought that he had something, he got 110 percent of everything Anthony Smith has. And he was conscious at the end of it. He fought the whole time. He never stopped.”
Smith said it was a very scary situation, but after his wife informed him about the intruder, there was no alternative but to go after the man breaking into his house who could do harm to his family.
“I wish there was a better word, but I can only use the word terrified,” Smith said. “I’ve never been more terrified of anything in my whole life.
“The worst part is there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t run from that. There’s nowhere to go. He’s in my house. There’s only one thing standing between my three daughters and him and it’s me. What do you do? You don’t have a choice.”
In perhaps the most bizarre part of the entire fight that ensued, Smith says that Haberman actually calmed down at some moments before beginning to struggle again. After police finally got him handcuffed and placed into custody, Smith recounted that he even apologized for the altercation.
“It was so weird – he went through so many different emotions,” Smith said. “There was a couple of times where there was a moment of clarity and calmness for just a second, and then he’d freak out again. I had some words for him when it was all over with and he’s sitting Indian style, his poor little puppy dog face.
“He’s all cut up, he’s bleeding, he’s battered, he’s swollen, and now I’m just emotionally abusing him. I’m just telling him everything that I wanted to say and he looks right up at me, I’ll never forget it, and says, ‘Hey man, I’m sorry.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
In the aftermath of the incident, Smith says his family is still shaken up by what unfolded, but thankfully no one else was harmed outside of the intruder. Haberman was ultimately charged with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor in Nebraska.
“Everyone’s good,” Smith said. “Emotionally, the kids are scared and my wife is having a hard time with it. She’s never been through anything like this. They’re having a hard time sleeping, so they’re sleeping in my bedroom. So we’ve got a full bed right now, that’s for sure.”
All of this happened less than three weeks away from Smith’s scheduled return to action where he’s facing Glover Teixeira in the main event of a UFC Fight Night card on April 25.
Despite the home invasion, Smith promises that won’t stop him from competing, and he’s been in constant communication with the UFC ever since the incident happened.
“I’m not going to let this guy affect what I have to do and my ability to provide for my family,” Smith said. “I’m going to go and I am going to ask the UFC if they charter all my travel if I can bring [my family] with me. It’s not even about me worrying about him coming back or whatever. I just don’t want to leave them because I want them to feel comfortable.”