Former UFC fighter Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson dies at 38

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Former UFC fighter Anthony “Rumble” Johnson died Sunday at age 38. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Anthony “Rumble” Johnsonwho went 13-6 in the UFC from 2007 to 2017 and compiled an overall MMA record of 23-6, died Sunday at age 38. The cause of death was organ failure due to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, which is a rare condition. immune system disorder.

Johnson competed in the UFC at welterweight, middleweight, and light heavyweight, and was known as one of the sport’s most feared punchers. He was 3-0 when he made his UFC debut on June 12, 2007, knocking out Chad Reiner in just 13 seconds in Hollywood, Florida.

He’s scored 17 of his 23 MMA wins by knockout, and as he’s grown tremendously in his career, he’s kept his power with him. He challenged twice for the UFC light heavyweight title, losing to Daniel Cormier both times by rear naked choke. Cormier first defeated Johnson at UFC 187 on May 23, 2015, for the vacant title that had been stripped from Jon Jones.

At UFC 210 in Buffalo, New York on April 8, 2017, Cormier won again by rear naked choke submission. It was Johnson’s last UFC and penultimate MMA, fight. He retired to open a marijuana business, but signed with Bellator and once struggled with the promotion. He knocked out José Augusto Azevedo Barros at 1:30 of the second round at Bellator 258 on May 7, 2021, at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

“He’s always been a great boy,” UFC President Dana White said of Johnson. “He was always into fun fights and he had that one-punch knockout power that few people had ever had. He was a good human being. I send my condolences to his family.”

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is not considered a death sentence and is generally a treatable form of cancer. It is a disorder of the lymphatic system. Together, the lymph nodes drain fluids and waste from the body. Lymph nodes act as tiny filters, removing foreign organisms and cells.

But in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cells in the lymph nodes grow out of control and then invade other body tissues.

Actress Jane Fonda announced earlier this year that she was being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Actor Gene Wilder developed it in 1999 and got over it. His death in 2016 came from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosisor HLH, is a rare immune system disorder that primarily affects infants and children, although it can affect people of any age.

Johnson was an engaging, soft-spoken man who, as a fighter, was known for his power, incredibly large physique, and difficulty gaining weight. He has victories over many iconic fighters and has knockout victories over former UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira; Bellator Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader; Antonio Rogerio Nogueira; and Jimi Manuwa.

Former UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman was one of Johnson’s closest friends. Johnson was private and kept his illness hidden as much as possible. Usman called Johnson, UFC Hall of Famer Rashad Evans and current UFC lightweight Michael Johnson “the fantastic four.”

Usman said on Sunday that he spoke with one of his coaches several weeks ago and expressed concern that he would receive a call with bad news.

“He was kind of like a turtle,” Usman told Yahoo Sports. “He would be in that shell most of the time, but then he would open up and come out of the shell and show you who he was. He would stick his head out, show you who he was and then come back in.”

He said Johnson came to his house several months ago and they had a good chat, but even then he didn’t have all the details.

“You know, it was kind of like [the late actor] Chadwick Boseman,” Usman said. “Chadwick kept his issue private and we were all so shocked and surprised [when he died in 2020]. Rumble would tell you these nonchalant stories, and he was having dialysis on his kidneys but he never really told you fully what was going on. He didn’t want to be treated differently. He didn’t want people to see him lose all that weight and go through those situations and treat him differently because of what was going on. He was such an incredible athlete.

“He had the feet of a welterweight and the power of a heavyweight and he was able to transfer that throughout his career. He was really special and gifted and he didn’t really have to try He felt like he was working hard, but there were levels he wasn’t going to, maybe he didn’t want to go. He was natural. I admired that so much. He made it feel like it It was easy. He had hit a guy and the guy was falling apart. I mean, I’ve worked so hard and been through this time and I found myself and hit this guy with everything and he was standing there. Rumble was of a different caliber than the rest of us.

Cormier said of Johnson on Twitter: “For a guy who struck fear into the hearts of so many, Anthony Johnson was a caring person.”

Longtime MMA referee John McCarthy, who is now a broadcast analyst for Bellator, fondly remembered Johnson in a tweet.

“AJ was one of the good guys,” McCarthy wrote. “He was a big man with a big heart.”

Johnson’s background was as a wrestler and he won the NJCAA national title at 174 pounds in 2004 for Lassen Community College.


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