Anthony Rumble Johnson
LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 20: Anthony Johnson celebrates his first-round knockout win over Glover Teixeira in their light heavyweight bout at the UFC 202 event at T-Mobile Arena on August 20, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images) Steve Marcus/Getty Images/Steve Marcus/Getty Images


  • Anthony "Rumble" Johnson passed away at the age of 38
  • Johnson was best remembered for his stint in the UFC
  • He battled Daniel Cormier twice for the UFC light heavyweight title

On Sunday afternoon, November 13, the mixed martial arts (MMA) world was rocked with the devastating news of the tragic and untimely passing of former two-time UFC title challenger Anthony "Rumble" Johnson at the age of 38.

Johnson's death, according to Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole, was organ failure due to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis—a rare disorder that affects the immune system.

Members of the MMA community, including notable past opponents in Daniel Cormier and Glover Teixeira all paid tribute to Johnson on social media.

"Rumble" will best be remembered as one of the hardest-hitting competitors to ever set foot inside an MMA cage.

While his background was rooted in amateur wrestling, Johnson displayed vicious stopping power that earned him 17 knockouts in his 23-win career.

Just four fights into his MMA run, Johnson was called up to the UFC, where he began as a welterweight.

He made his Octagon debut in 2007, knocking out Chad Reiner in just 13 seconds.

Moreover, five of his next six UFC wins would all come by way of stoppage.

While his initial run with the UFC was filled with highlight-worth knockouts, it was also filled with consistent weight-cutting issues as he struggled to make the 170-pound limit on multiple occasions.

In 2011, Johnson was set to make his middleweight debut against Vitor Belfort but again missed weight by a whopping 12 pounds.

Johnson went on to lose to Belfort in a catchweight bout and was subsequently released from the UFC.

From 2012 to 2014, Johnson went on a stellar run in smaller promotions, seemingly finding a home in the light heavyweight division.

After putting together a six-fight winning streak, Johnson returned to the UFC and scored three-straight wins over the likes of Phil Davis, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Alexander Gustafsson to earn a shot at the then-vacant UFC light heavyweight championship opposite Daniel Cormier.

Johnson would go on to fall to Cormier by third-round submission.

Anthony Rumble Johnson
LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 19: Mixed martial artist Anthony Johnson salutes as he poses on the scale during his weigh-in for UFC 202 at MGM Grand Conference Center on August 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Johnson will meet Glover Teixeira in a light heavyweight bout on August 20, 2016, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Ethan Miller/Getty Images/Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After the loss to Cormier, Johnson went on another three-fight winning streak, demolishing Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira to earn a rematch with Cormier for the latter's gold-plated stap.

Johnson would once again get submitted by Cormier.

Following the loss, Johnson announced his retirement from the UFC and the sport of MMA.

Three years following his retirement, it was announced that Johnson had signed with Bellator where he would compete in the promotion's Light Heavyweight Grand Prix.

"Rumble" returned to the cage in 2021, knocking out Jose Agusto Azevedo in the second round to advance in the tournament. He would later withdraw due to an illness.

Unfortunately, the win over Azevedo ended up being the final MMA fight of Johnson's life.

Johnson was generally well-respected as a competitor and was well-liked by his colleagues in the fight game.

Apart from his early weight-cutting issues, "Rumble" largely stayed out of trouble.

If his 2021 performance were a precursor to the level that he was at, it would have been safe to assume that Johnson would have gotten far in the Grand Prix, making his untimely demise all the more heartbreaking.