Former UFC fighter Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson dies after saying ‘never been so scared’ of health battle

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The mixed martial arts and UFC community came out in droves to mourn the death of a ‘legend’ who passed away on Sunday after a long, undisclosed illness.

Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, 38, two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title contender, went public last year that his health was declining as he fought a different type of battle than he was in accustomed, the one he finally lost. His cause of death remains unconfirmed.

American mixed martial arts promoter Bellator MMA confirmed the news on Sunday: “It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson.”

“The BELLATOR family is devastated by his untimely passing and we send our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Described as one of the “toughest” and “scariest” punchers in the industry, he was remembered as “one of the good guys, he was a great man with a huge heart”, according to the MMA commentator. Great John McCarthywho said he was “crushed and devastated by the news”.

Johnson’s illness began to deteriorate in September 2021 when he was forced to withdraw from his Light Heavyweight title fight against champion Vadim Nemkov in the Grand Prix tournament at Bellator 268 on October 16.

Details of his illness have not been released, but he posted a disturbing message on Instagram at the time: “I really wish I could explain in detail how sick I really am. Just know that I need as many prayers as I can and I will see you in 2022 God willing,” Johnson wrote.

“I’ve never been so scared of anything in my life, but I stayed strong with the support of my friends and family.”

Johnson wrote alongside the caption that he was ‘asking for nothing but prayers’ and warned ‘See you in 2022 hopefully’… ‘It’s going to be a battle and I’m going to have to dig deeper than never before. . I love you all.”

His return in 2022 seemed abandoned when in late October, still not having competed, manager Abdelaziz warned that “Rumble, he has health problems at the moment”. Abdelaziz told ESPN MMA: “It’s very sad” and asked everyone “to pray for him. Pray for Anthony. It’s not going well. He is very strong, spiritually. But pray for him.

Details of the illness were still unclear at the time, but Abdelaziz sent a message to his client: “Anthony, be strong. Lots of people love you. He’ll be fine, but he’s not fine.

‘Rumble’ has cut ties with the UFC twice in his lifetime, fighting from 2007-2012 and 2014-2017 before signing with Bellator MMA in 2020. He only fought once in 2021 in what would be his last fight, although it earned him yet another knockout win.

Stars from the mixed martial arts, UFC and WWE community paid their respects on Sunday. Same candidate for the Georgia Senate Herschel walker paid tribute to him, describing him as “my brother MMA and Georgia”. “Anthony grew up on the road in Dublin and found his own version of the American Dream through MMA. Julie and I are praying for his family,” he posted.

Former professional mixed martial artist Daniel Cormier said: “For a guy who struck fear into the hearts of so many, Anthony Johnson was a caring person. From random text to recordings in case of loss. What a person he was, Rumble will be missed. Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair. Horrible news.

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