by Dane McGuire

Amidst the immediate fallout of UFC 281, the MMA community has been rocked by the news that Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson died November 13 at age 38.

Ariel Helwani reported on social media that Johnson had been battling an illness for sometime but other outlets including MMA Fighting report an official cause of death has not yet been announced.

Johnson fought for the UFC light heavyweight title twice. He had two runs with the UFC from 2007-2012 and 2014-2017. He retired in 2017 after his second title fight loss to Daniel Cormier in 2017 but returned in 2021 with Bellator MMA.

Johnson earned a second-round knockout win over Jose Augusto. He was then set to challenge light heavyweight champion light heavyweight champion Vadim Nemkov as part of a grand prix but withdrew in October 2021 due to an undisclosed illness as MMA Fighting reports.

Johnson was 23-7 with 17 KO/TKOs.

Since news of his passing has emerged, reactions have been pouring in from those in the sport including former opponents such as Cormier. Former light heavyweight champion and current challenger Glover Teixeira mourned the loss of Johnson as well.

Cormier tweeted:

“Rest Easy my brother. For a guy who struck fear in so many peoples heart Anthony Johnson was a caring person. From random text to check ins during loss. What a person he was, Rumble will be missed. Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair. Horrible news #RIP #Rumblesquad @Anthony_Rumble”

Teixeira tweeted:

“I am so sad to hear about this news. One of the most scary & tough opponents that I had ever faced and one of the nicest and most humble humans I have ever met. My heart is broken. My condolences to his family. RIP #rumblesquad”

An ESPN report notes “In September 2021, Johnson posted on Instagram that he needed “as many prayers as I can get” and was in a battle, noting it was “NOT COVID.” On May 17, Johnson posted on Instagram that he had gotten good news from his doctor, saying there were “big improvements.”

However, his management told ESPN the next month that Johnson was not doing well.

Bellator MMA released a statement Sunday, saying:

“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.”