Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, the former MMA light heavyweight fighter known for the strength of his punch, died Sunday at age 38.
Bellator UFC first confirmed the news Sunday afternoon, tweeting, “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.”
The American UFC fighter shared last year that he had been fighting a serious illness, and Yahoo Sports is reporting that Johnson died of organ failure due to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a rare immune disorder called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.
“Really wish I could go into detail about how ill I truly am. Just know I need as many prayers as I can get and I’ll see you in 2022 God willing,” Johnson wrote on Instagram in September 2021. “Never been this afraid of anything in my life but I’ve remained strong with the support of friends and family.”
“This is gonna be a battle and I’m gonna have to dig deeper than I ever have before,” he added in his caption, later posting throughout the year brief, positive updates on his health.
Known for the fearsome strength of his punches – 17 of his 23 career wins were by knockout – the MMA fighter took several years out of the spotlight before coming out of retirement and joining Bellator MMA in 2021. He first joined the UFC in 2007 and was ranked its No. 1 light heavyweight fighter in 2014. He retired from the sport in 2017.
Johnson’s last professional fight was in May 2021, knocking out José Augusto and bringing his career record to 23-6.