Anthony Johnson, a Bellator fighter and two-time UFC title challenger, died on Sunday, 13th November. He died at the age of 38.
He died due to organ failure due to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis are rare disorders of the immune system.
Bellator MMA on social media announced Johnson’s death. A Bellator spokesperson said Johnson had been battling illness for more than a year.
Johnson’s last fight was in May 2021. His health was dwindling from that time. Johnson shared an Instagram post in September 2021 saying he “really wish I could go into detail about how ill I truly am.” The condition was serious as mentioned in the same post, “I’ll see you in 2022 god willing…”
He was going through a rough battle that was something other than COVID. The post continues, “…never been this afraid of anything in my life but I’ve remained strong with the support of friends and family.”And, in May 2022, he shared the good news of his health getting better, “Dr. gave me good news…big improvements…”
In his fighting career, Johnson had competed in the UFC at welterweight, middleweight, and light heavyweight. He debuted UFC on June 12, 2007, with a score of 3-0, knocking out Chad Reiner in just 13 seconds in Hollywood, Florida. He soon came to be known as one of the most feared punchers in the sport.
Throughout his career, he was massively bulked up and kept his power with him. In total, Johnson had 17 of his 23 MMA wins by knockouts.
Johnson is a two-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger, losing to Daniel Cormier both times by rear naked choke. Johnson’s final UFC battle for UFC lightweight heavyweight title was in Buffalo, New York, on April 8, 2017. As per his announcement, he retired to open a marijuana business.
He was fighting again on the 7th of May 2021 as he signed with Bellator and fought for the promotion. He knocked out José Augusto Azevedo Barros in round two. He was to fight another match in October 2021 with Bellator’s light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov. But, Johnson was forced to withdraw from the fight due to his illness.
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson’s untimely death has shocked everyone.
Johnson was an engaging and soft-spoken man. He was a fighter who was known for his power, enormous physique, and for difficulty making weight.
Johnson’s closest friend was former UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman. He said that Johnson was a private person and tended to keep his illness hidden as much as possible. He shared that Johnson was like the late actor Chadwick Boseman. “You know, it was a little like Chadwick Boseman.”
Usman further told that Johnson never fully told what was going on. “He didn’t want to be treated differently,” said Usman.
Johnson wanted people to treat him normally, despite what treatments he was going through.
Johnson’s death has reverberated across the MMA community. The fighters are mourning on social media.