Two-time UFC title challenger Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson dead at 38

Anthony Johnson | Esther Lin

Anthony Johnson, a Bellator fighter and two-time UFC title challenger, has died.

He was 38 years old.

MMA Fighting has confirmed the news with sources with knowledge of the situation, following an outpouring of messages on social media regarding Johnson’s death.

The cause of death has yet to be announced.

Johnson is best remembered for a pair of UFC stints from 2007-2012 and 2014-2017. His first run with the promotion saw him emerge as an intriguing welterweight prospect with unmatched knockout power, while his second run occurred as a light heavyweight. It was during Johnson’s second UFC run that he defeated the likes of Glover Teixeira, Ryan Bader, Alexander Gustafsson, and Phil Davis, and earned two cracks at the light heavyweight championship.

He announced his retirement after a 2017 title fight loss to Daniel Cormier, but returned to competition in 2021 and fought once for Bellator, defeating Jose Augusto by second-round knockout. In October 2021, Johnson was to fight Bellator light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov as part of a grand prix tournament, but was forced to withdraw from that contest due to an undisclosed illness.

Johnson’s pro MMA record was 23-6 with 17 wins coming by way of KO/TKO.

Mike Heck and Damon Martin contributed to this report.

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