UFC Stars Who Have Died: Honouring The Memory Of Fallen Fighters


UFC Stars Who Have Died: Honouring The Memory Of Fallen Fighters

Image: Getty / ZUFFA

Like any sport, mixed martial arts has seen the death of some of its most beloved fighters. In recent years, we’ve seen the UFC mourn the deaths of several superstars.

No matter how invincible UFC fighters look inside the Octagon, they are mere mortals like you and me. As such, we’ve seen several prominent fighters succumb to illness or medical conditions that took their lives away.

Let’s take a look at the five most prominent UFC fighters who have left this world ahead of everybody else.

Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson

UFC Fighters Who Have Died - Anthony Johnson via cnn.com
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Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson was one of the most beloved figures in the UFC. Known for his explosive knockout power, Rumble had an impressive 23-6 record with 17 knockouts. He challenged twice for the UFC light heavyweight championship, losing both times to Daniel Cormier. Rumble moved to Bellator after his second loss to DC. He competed at the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix but withdrew after he fell ill.

At first, Johnson refused to disclose his illness but asked for prayers as his body was starting to deteriorate. It was later learned that he was dealing with an autoimmune illness called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) while at the same time battling with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. Rumble died of organ failure on 13 November 20222 at the age of 38.

Elias Theodorou

UFC Fighters Who Have Died - Elias Theodorou via espn.com
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Elias Theodorou was a Canadian mixed martial artist who competed in the UFC’s middleweight division. Theodorou was a former Extreme Cage Combat middleweight champion and was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada versus Australia tournament held in 2014.

He had a decent 11-3 run with the UFC. However, the Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada native always came up empty in his biggest UFC fights. Theodoru’s three career losses all came in the UFC against Thiago Santos, Brad Tavares, and Derek Brunson. He last fought in December 2021 and suddenly disappeared from the limelight. It turned out that he was battling stage 4 colon cancer which had metastasized to his liver. He passed away on 11 September 2022 at the young age of 34.

Stephan Bonnar

UFC Fighters Who Have Died - Stephan Bonnar via ktsm.com
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Stephan Bonnar is one of the most important fighters in the history of the UFC. Bonnar’s TUF 1 finale bout against Forrest Griffin is widely regarded as the most important fight in the history of the UFC. At that time, the UFC was struggling and nearing bankruptcy. But the excitement created by the back-and-forth nature of that fight reinvigorated the company and took it to new heights.

Bonnar fought for the IHC and Total Fight Challenge promotion among others before his iconic stint at TUF 1. Bonnar had a mediocre 8-8 UFC record but he was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2013. His last bout was a loss to Tito Ortiz at Bellator 131 in 2014 and ventured into pro wrestling after that. The ‘American Psycho’ worked for the UFC prior to his death. He died on 22 December 22 at the age of 45  due to an accidental fentanyl overdose.

Kimbo Slice

UFC Fighters Who Have Died - Kimbo Slice via mmafighting.com
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Kevin Ferguson was one of the most popular figures in MMA. Popularly known as Kimbo Slice, Ferguson was a street fighting legend who lost only once in unsanctioned mutual combat street fights which were shown on the Internet. He took his act to professional MMA and fought under the EliteXC promotion where he went 3-1 and picked up a win over UFC legend Tank Abbott.

Kimbo fought only twice in the UFC Octagon. He defeated Houston Alexander via unanimous decision at the TUF: Heavyweights Finale in 2009 but was knocked out by Matt Mitrionne the following year at UFC 113. Slice defeated another UFC legend Ken Shamrock at Bellator 138 and in his final mixed martial arts bout, he figured in a no-contest against Dada 5000. The bout was originally a KO win for Slice but he failed a drug test. Kimbo died of congestive heart failure on 6 June 2016. Kimbo was 42 years old when he passed away.

Kevin Randleman

UFC Fighters Who Have Died - Kevin Randleman via espn.com
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Kevin Randleman is a former UFC heavyweight champion and is considered one of the pioneers of the sport. A two-time NCAA Division I collegiate wrestling champion, Randleman joined the UFC in 1999 and challenged for the heavyweight title in his second Octagon appearance. He lost to Bas Rutten via split decision at UFC 20 but became champion in his next fight after Rutten vacated the title due to retirement.

Randleman also fought for notable promotions like Pride and Strikeforce after his stint with the UFC. In 2004, he recorded the ‘Upset of the Year’ winner when he stunned Mirko Cro Cop at Pride Total Elimination in 2004. Randleman was a dismal 2-9 in his last 11 MMA fights. Still, his contributions to the sport are invaluable. He died of pneumonia complications while on a business trip on 11 February 2016. Randleman was only 44 years old.