More details have emerged following the tragic passing of two-time UFC light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Johnson.
On Sunday, November 13, Johnson died aged just 38. “Rumble,” who initially retired from the sport following his second failed attempt at dethroning Daniel Cormier, was under contract with Bellator MMA at the time having returned to action under its banner in May 2021.
After knocking out José Augusto Azevedo in his promotional debut, which came as a quarterfinal bout in a light heavyweight Grand Prix, Johnson withdrew from a semifinal bout and title fight against Vadim Nemkov last October, citing an illness as the reason why.
While the severity of the then-unknown condition was clear, “Rumble” looked on the path to recovery earlier this year. But just weeks ago, MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz provided a concerning update, asking for fans to pray for the hard-hitting UFC great.
Now, following his passing, the MMA community is mourning the loss of one of the sport’s most prominent light heavyweights.
Details surrounding the illness that kept Johnson on the sidelines were kept quiet, but his cause of death has now been confirmed.
Per a report from Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole, Johnson passed away as a result of organ failure due to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that begins in your lymphatic system, and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a clinical syndrome characterized by dysregulation of the immune system.
Jones Pays Tribute Following Johnson’s passing
Following news of Anthony Johnson’s untimely death, a host of fans, fighters, and pundits paid tribute to “Rumble” on social media and sent condolences to the former UFC star’s family.
One of those to publicly mourn Johnson’s death was Jon Jones, who was originally stated to share the cage with “Rumble” back at UFC 187 in 2015. A month before the event, however, “Bones” was stripped of the light heavyweight title and suspended in connection with a hit-and-run incident.
While ultimately never fighting Johnson, the pair shared a good relationship, even creating a memorable moment during the UFC 187 press conference, The pair pranked Dana White by pretending to fight during their faceoff.
Jones took to Instagram to post a video after Johnson’s death, writing that he was “honored” to have known and interacted with him. The video comprised clips that included the pair’s prank on White and the words “Rumble” sent Jones from inside the Octagon after his retirement at UFC 210.
“Honored to call you a friend, rest in peace King,” Jones wrote.