Retired UFC fighter Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (full name Anthony Kewoa Johnson) died Sunday at 38.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Johnson died from organ failure caused by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis—a rare immune system disease.
Bellator MMA confirmed the news through Twitter, writing, “It is with great sadness we acknowledge the passing of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. The BELLATOR family is devastated by his untimely passing, and we send our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
🙏 It is with great sadness we acknowledge the passing of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
The BELLATOR family is devastated by his untimely passing and we send our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/TqZzN1wquY
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) November 13, 2022
Johnson’s illness wasn’t disclosed before, but it kept him from fighting in the box. According to MMA Junkie, the 38-year-old was scheduled to fight champion Vadim Nemkov in the semi-finals of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, but his illness caused him to withdraw.
“I talked to him about a week ago, and we had a very good conversation,” Bellator president Scott Coker told the outlet. “Without getting too much into his medical condition, he’s got to worry just about being healthy first. Fighting will always be there. I told him to keep doing what he’s doing, keep listening to the doctors, and keep at it. We’re going to be here, we’re not going anywhere. If you get cleared at some point, we’ll definitely have you back.”
He added, “I think he has a little ways to go, to be honest, and we’re going to be there rooting him on. But until he gets clearance – I don’t look at it like he’s going to be fighting in six months or four months or eight months.”
Johnson, who holds a 23-6 MMA record, got his start in the UFC on June 7, 2007, where he fought MMA fighter Chad “The Grinder” Reiner in Hollywood, Florida. Johnson managed to knock him out in the first round in 13 seconds. He had 23 MMA wins in his career, and 17 of them were won by knockouts.
He retired from his UFC career in 2017.