Former UFC fighter Anthony Johnson has passed away at the age of 38 after a long battle with illness. Nicknamed ‘Rumble’ he was known as one of the best knockout artists during his days in the championship.
He was due to compete for the Bellator light-heavyweight title in September of 2021, but pulled out with an unspecified illness that has persisted before it was confirmed on Sunday evening that he had passed away.
Johnson revealed in a social media post last year that he was suffering with his illness. “Really wish I could go into detail about how ill I truly am,” he said. “Just know I need as many prayers as I can get and I’ll see you in 2022 God willing. Never been this afraid of anything in my life but I’ve remained strong with the support of friends and family.”
Last month his manager Ali Abdelaziz asked fans to pray for Johnson in his battle. “Rumble, he’s going through some health problems right now. It’s very sad,” Abdelaziz told ESPN. “I think, I want everybody to pray for him. Pray for Anthony. It’s not going well. He’s very strong, spiritually. But pray for him.”
Tributes have come pouring in for Johnson as UFC fans and fighters have paid their respects. Former champion Daniel Cormier took to social media to express how much Johnson meant to him. “Rest Easy my brother,” he wrote.
“For a guy who struck fear in so many peoples heart Anthony Johnson was a caring person. From random text to check ins during loss. What a person he was, Rumble will be missed. Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair. Horrible news #RIP #Rumblesquad @Anthony_Rumble.”
Current UFC fighter Michael Chiesa also tweeted about Johnson’s passing and was in awe of his talent. “RIP Anthony “Rumble” Johnson,” he wrote. “One of the most prolific KO artists our sport has ever seen. My prayers go out to his family and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Johnson’s most famous wins saw him defeat world champions such as Glover Texeira and Ryan Bader, as well as Jimi Manuwa and Alexander Gustafsson.
His most recent outing was a light-heavyweight Grand Prix bout with Jose Augusto Azevedo in 2021, which he won by knockout in the second round.