The mixed martial arts community and the UFC took to the streets to mourn the death of a “legend” who passed away after an undisclosed illness on Sunday.
Two-time Supreme Martial Arts Championship (UFC) contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, 38, last year shared publicly that his health was declining as he fought in a category a battle that was different from the one he was in—a battle he ultimately lost. His cause of death has yet to be confirmed.
American mixed martial arts promoter Bellator MMA confirmed the news on Sunday: “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson.”
“The BELLATOR family is deeply saddened by his sudden passing and we extend our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Described as one of the “toughest” and “frightest” boxers in the village, he is remembered as “one of the good guys, he was a wonderful man with a good heart, ” according to MMA commentator Big John McCarthywho said he was “crushed and devastated by the news.”
Johnson’s illness began to flare up in September 2021 when he was forced to withdraw from a Light Heavyweight title match with champion Vadim Nemkov in the framework of the Grand Prix at Bellator 268 on October 16.
Details of his illness were not released but he posted an ominous message on Instagram at the time: “Really wish I could detail my true condition. Just know I need as much prayer as I can and I’ll see you guys again in 2022 if God willing,” Johnson wrote.
“Never have I been afraid of anything like this in my life but I’m still going strong with the support of friends and family.”
Johnson wrote along with the caption that he wasn’t “ask for anything but prayers” and warned “See you in 2022″… “this is going to be a battle and I’ll have to Dig deeper than ever. I love you all.”
His return in 2022 appeared to be unfinished when at the end of October, still not playing, manager Abdelaziz warned that “Rumble, he is currently having some health problems. ” Abdelaziz said MMA GAMES: “How sad” and asked people to “pray for him. Pray for Anthony. It won’t be good. He’s very strong, mentally. 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 doing well.”
“Rumble” severed ties with the UFC twice during his lifetime, fighting from 2007-2012 and 2014-2017 before signing with Bellator MMA in 2020. He only fought once. in 2021 in his last game, though it did give him another knockout victory.
Stars from the mixed martial arts, UFC and WWE communities posted their tributes Sunday. Even the Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker paid his respects, describing him as “my MMA and Georgia brother.” “Anthony grew up in Dublin and found her 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 posted: “For a guy who has instilled fear in the hearts of so many, Anthony Johnson is a thoughtful man. From random text to sign up while lost. What kind of person he was, Rumble will be remembered. Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair. Terrible news.”