Details of ex-UFC star Anthony Johnson's death revealed: report

Details of ex-UFC star Anthony Johnson’s death revealed: report

Former UFC star Anthony Johnson is believed to have died of organ failure due to a bout with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. He was 38 years old.

Johnson’s death was announced Sunday in a statement from Bellator MMA, the last promotion the former light heavyweight title contender participated in. Yahoo Sports reported the cause of death.

The young mixed martial artist had been ill for more than a year, a Bellator spokesperson told The Associated Press. But he wasn’t known to talk about what tormented him.

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Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson (L) of the United States fights with Alexander 'The Mauler' Gustafsson of Sweden in their UFC lightweight mixed martial arts bout at Tele2 Arena in Stockholm on January 24, 2015.

Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson (L) of the United States fights with Alexander ‘The Mauler’ Gustafsson of Sweden in their UFC lightweight mixed martial arts bout at Tele2 Arena in Stockholm on January 24, 2015.
(REUTERS/Jessica Gow/TT News Agency)

Kamaru Usman told Yahoo Sports he spoke to Johnson a few months ago but didn’t have any details about what was going on with him.

“You know, it was kind of like 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 do anything. ‘ effort. He felt 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 was giving the felt like it was easy. He had hit a guy and the guy was falling apart. I mean, I worked so hard and put in this time, and I found myself and hit that guy with everything, and he was standing Rumble was a different caliber than the rest of us.

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Johnson posted an ominous message in September 2021 that he needed “as many prayers as possible” and was in a battle unrelated to COVID-19. Johnson then posted in May that he had received reports from a doctor that he had made “great improvements”.

Anthony Johnson enters the ring before the Ligh Heavyweight title fight against Daniel Cormier at KeyBank Center on April 8, 2017 in Buffalo, New York.

Anthony Johnson enters the ring before the Ligh Heavyweight title fight against Daniel Cormier at KeyBank Center on April 8, 2017 in Buffalo, New York.
(Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

In October, Johnson’s manager told ESPN that “Rumble” “has been having health issues at the moment. … He’s not doing well.”

Daniel Cormier, with whom Johnson had a major rivalry, was among those who paid tribute to “Rumble”.

“Rest bro. For a guy who struck fear into the hearts of so many, Anthony Johnson was a caring person,” Cormier tweeted. “From random text to recordings during the loss. What a person he was, Rumble will be missed. Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair. Horrible news.”

Johnson had 11 knockouts in his decade in the UFC. He fought from 2007 to 2017 and lost twice to Cormier in light heavyweight title fights. He competed in three weight classes during his time in the UFC and became one of the strongest punchers the company had ever seen.

Anthony Johnson announces his retirement following his loss to Daniel Cormier in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout at UFC 210 at KeyBank Center on April 8, 2017 in Buffalo, New York.

Anthony Johnson announces his retirement following his loss to Daniel Cormier in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout at UFC 210 at KeyBank Center on April 8, 2017 in Buffalo, New York.
(Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

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He retired from the UFC in 2017 and was competing in Bellator in 2021 before his health issues worsened.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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