Bellator MMA light heavyweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has died at age 38. Bellator confirmed reports of his death on Sunday afternoon with Chairman Scott Coker previously stating that Johnson was battling an undisclosed illness.
Johnson fought twice in the UFC, becoming one of the sport’s most prolific knockout artists with a one-punch strike that became infamous in the mixed martial arts community. Fighting as a welterweight on his first tour with the company, he struggled with weight losses, eventually moving up to light heavyweight and even heavyweight while competing for the World Series of Fighting.
Returning to the UFC in 2014, Johnson had three wins and a shot against then-champion Daniel Cormier in May 2015. He lost that fight via rear-end choke. After three more wins, Johnson challenged Cormier again in April 2017, but tapped the choke a second time.
“Rumble” announced his retirement from MMA in 2017 as the top-ranked light heavyweight in the UFC. However, he finally returned to action in the Bellator cage four years later, knocking out Jose Augusto in May 2021 in the first round of the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix. Illness then forced him to withdraw from his title fight with Vadim Nemkov in the semi-finals.
Johnson’s career record was 23-6 with 17 wins by knockout. Outside the cage, he was convicted of domestic battery in 2008 and charged with domestic violence in 2014, although no charges were filed in the latter incident.