Former UFC light-heavyweight title contender Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson has passed away at the age of 38 after lengthy battles with an unspecified illness.
The ex-fighter was due to fight for the Bellator light-heavyweight title in September of last year, but pulled out due to a health issue that persisted over the past year. His manager Ali Abdelaziz had asked fans as recently as last month to “pray” for the fighter, and it was confirmed this evening that he lost his battle with illness.
Last year, Johnson explained how sick he was during a social media post, which read: “Really wish I could go into detail about how ill I truly am. 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.”
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Johnson challenged for the light-heavyweight belt in the UFC on two occasions, both times losing to all-time great Daniel Cormier. They first met in 2015 at UFC 187 after Jon Jones was forced out, before rematching at UFC 210 in April of 2017 with Cormier winning both by submission.
His most famous wins included beating world champions such as Glover Texeira and Ryan Bader, as well as defeating the likes of Jimi Manuwa and Alexander Gustafsson. His most recent outing was a light-heavyweight Grand Prix bout with Jose Augusto Azevedo which he won by knockout in the second round back in May of 2021.
The cause of death has yet to be announced.
Johnson is best remembered for a pair of UFC stints from 2007-2012 and 2014-2017. His first run with the promotion saw him emerge as an intriguing welterweight prospect with unmatched knockout power, while his second run occurred as a light heavyweight. It was during Johnson’s second UFC run that he defeated the likes of Glover Teixeira, Ryan Bader, Alexander Gustafsson, and Phil Davis, and earned two cracks at the light heavyweight championship.
He announced his retirement after a 2017 title fight loss to Daniel Cormier, but returned to competition in 2021 and fought once for Bellator, defeating Jose Augusto by second-round knockout. In October 2021, Johnson was to fight Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov as part of a grand prix tournament, but was forced to withdraw from that contest due to an undisclosed illness.
Johnson’s pro MMA record was 23-6 with 17 wins coming by way of KO/TKO. (Read More Here).