Anthony Johnson, who starred in the UFC and challenged for the light heavyweight title multiple times, has died after battling an illness. He was 38.
Bellator MMA, one of the promotions Johnson was in, announced the former fighter’s death on social media on Sunday. A Bellator spokesman said Johnson had been ill for more than a year.
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“The BELLATOR family is devastated by his untimely passing and we send our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time,” the company said.
Johnson posted a worrying message in September 2021 that he needed “as many prayers as I can get” and was in a battle that wasn’t COVID-19 related. Johnson then posted in May that he received information from a doctor that he had made “big improvements.”
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In October, Johnson’s manager told ESPN that “Rumble” was “going through some health problems right now … he’s not doing well.”
His death reverberated across the MMA community on social media.
Johnson had 11 knockouts during his decade in the UFC. He fought from 2007 to 2017 and lost twice to Daniel Cormier in light heavyweight title bouts. He competed in three weight classes during his time at UFC and became one of the most powerful punchers the company had ever seen.
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He retired from UFC in 2017 and was competing in Bellator in 2021 before his health problems worsened.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.