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Former UFC title contender Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson dead at 38

UFC 210: Cormier v Johnson 2 Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Popular Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator MMA fighter, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, passed away at just 38 years of age.

The news was confirmed by various people close to the fighter, with his cause of death being disclosed right here. Just last month, his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, revealed that Johnson was having more serious health problems, asking the mixed martial arts (MMA) community to pray for “Rumble.”

“Rumble, he’s going through some health problems right now,” Abdelaziz said. “ It’s very sad. I think, I want everybody to pray for him. Pray for Anthony. It’s not going well. He’s very strong, spiritually. But pray for him. I want to give a shout out to Bellator, Scott Coker. They’ve been supporting him. You could not imagine how much support they’re giving them. Anthony, be strong. A lot of people love you. He’s going to be okay, but he’s not doing well.”

Johnson was set to fight Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 268 back in Oct. 2021, but had to withdraw from the fight. At the time he released a statement via his Instagram account hinting at health issues.

“Really wish I could go into detail about how ill I truly am,” he wrote. “Just know I need as many prayers as I can get and I’ll see you in 2022 God willing... Never been this afraid of anything in my life but I’ve remained strong with the support of friends and family.”

In the caption for the message he added, “NOT COVID.”

Johnson debuted in UFC after just three professional fights, winning his Welterweight debut with the promotion by knockout in just 13 seconds. “Rumble” went 7-3 at 170 pounds, but struggled to make weight, missing by more than five pounds twice. A move to Middleweight didn’t solve the problem as he missed weight in his next two fights by 10 pounds.

UFC cut him over the repeated weight issues.

Johnson finally found a comfortable home at Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight, where he competed for World Series of Fighting (WSOF) before coming back to UFC in 2014. After three wins with the promotion at 205 pounds, he fought Daniel Cormier for the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight title, losing via rear-naked choke in the third round. A second title fight against Cormier two years later would end similarly.

“Rumble” left UFC after that second title loss and went into retirement. He signed with Bellator in 2020 and managed to fight once for the promotion in 2021, earning yet another knockout win in what would be his last MMA fight. Over his career, Johnson earned wins over names like Glover Teixeira, Ryan Bader, Alexander Gustafsson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Phil Davis and Andrei Arlovski, among others. It’s crazy to think he ever managed to make Welterweight where he fought Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck and Yoshiyuki Yoshida.

It’s terrible to hear that “Rumble” has passed at such a young age. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

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