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Deceased Mixed Martial Artists

It is a testament to the safety of mixed martial arts, and the fitness and defensive skill level of its combatants, that of the most prominent MMA fighters to have passed away in the last two decades, none did so inside the cage. More than fifteen years after the advent of professional mixed martial arts in North America, fewer than ten men have died as a direct result of injuries sustained inside the cage or ring. None were promiment fighters.

By contrast, more than 200 amateur and professional boxers have died as a result of ring or training injuries since 1980. The two most famous examples of in-the-ring deaths in boxing, in which Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini caused the death of boxer Duk Koo Kim in 1982, and Emile Griffith caused the death of Benny Paret in 1962, both took place in front of live national television audiences, on CBS and NBC, respectively. (Neither Kim nor Paret was literally killed inside the boxing ring, but rather died some days later as a result of brain swelling caused during the fights). MMA has, fortunately, avoided a similar incident thus far.

But two of MMA's most well-known and beloved fighters passed away as a result, whether directly or indirectly, of grave errors in personal judgment. Former UFC Middleweight Champion and revered iconoclast Evan Tanner died of heat exhaustian in the California desert in September 2008 after undertaking a dangerous solo camping expedition into the wilderness in an effort to find himself. And prominent Gracie family member and Pride FC veteran Ryan Gracie passed away tragically in a Rio de Janeiro police cell in 2007, where he was detained after allegedly stealing a car. Tranquilizers improperly administered to Gracie following the arrest may have played a role in his death. Both Tanner and Gracie are remembered for their enormous contributions to the early development of MMA at a time when the financial incentives to cage combat were modest, and one's love of the sport was paramount.

Perhaps even more tragic, because of its random and arbitrary nature, was the December 25, 2008 death of former UFC heavyweight Justin Eilers, who was shot in the chest by his own father on Christmas day. Eilers once fought for the UFC Heavyweight Championship unsuccessfully, against Andrei Arlovski at UFC 53 in 2005. Eilers's father, charged with 2nd degree murder, was convicted of manslaughter and is currently serving a fifteen year sentence.

It is mistakenly believed that MMA's first confirmed death took place in Russia. In fact, the event in question was held in Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, where on March 16, 1998, 31 year old American Douglas Dedge of Chipley, Florida, became the first known hand-to-hand combatant to killed in an organized mixed martial arts event. That event was an unsanctioned contest alternatively known as the "International Super Challenge," or "World Super Challenge," and was billed on the tagline of "Ukraine Versus the World." Dedge entered the contest after having failed to pass pre-fight physicals in the United States, which effectively barred him from competing domestically. He elected to fight in the Ukraine, where there was no pre-fight testing, despite passing out in training shortly before the match. Dedge was mounted and badly beaten during the contest, and died two days later of severe brain hemmoraging at the Kiev Institute of Neurosurgery.

Fourteen years after UFC 1, Samuel Vasquez became the first MMA fighter to die from injuries sustained in a sanctioned bout in North America, on November 30, 2007, following a Renegades Extreme Fighting bout in Houston, Texas. Vazquez remained in a coma for 42 days following the bout, which ended via TKO in the third round, before finally succumbing.

Currently, the only deceased member of the UFC Hall of Fame was not a professional fighter, but rather, MMA apparel brand TapouT co-founder and frontman Charles "Mask" Lewis, Jr. Lewis, one of the most influential individuals in the nascent cultural development of the UFC and mixed martial arts generally, died March 11, 2009 in a high speed car crash as a result of apparent illicit street racing.

Deceased Mixed Martial Artists

Fighter   Height   Weight Class   Record   Nation
Aaron Rajman 5'9" (175cm) Bantamweight 2-2-0 Us
Aditya Deshpande 5'8" (173cm) Flyweight 4-1-0 In
Adriano "Mamute" Sylberth 5'6" (168cm) Welterweight 1-1-0 Br
Alan dos Santos N/A Lightweight 16-4-0 Br
Ale "The Young" Cali 5'5" (166cm) Flyweight 5-3-0 Ph
Alexander "Superman" Barbaryan 6'5" (196cm) Light Heavyweight 10-1-0 Ua
Alexander Chursin 5'5" (165cm) Bantamweight 0-2-0 Ua
Alexey Nikiforov N/A Bantamweight Am 0-1-0 Ru
Arsen Karaketov N/A Light Heavyweight 1-0-0 Ru
Behram Qasim N/A Lightweight Am 0-1-0 Pk
Billy "The Punisher" Ayash 5'10" (178cm) Heavyweight 7-2-0 Us
Blas "The Disciple" Avena 6'0" (183cm) Welterweight 8-7-0, 1 NC Us
Booto Guylain 6'0" (184cm) Middleweight 0-2-0 Za
Bruno "Kruel" Alves 6'1" (185cm) Middleweight 0-3-0 Br
Bryan Vetell 6'3" (190cm) Heavyweight 4-3-0 Us
Casey Suire 5'6" (168cm) Bantamweight 6-2-0 Us
Corey "The Real Deal" Hill 6'4" (194cm) Welterweight 6-9-0 Us
"The Executioner" Cornelius Godfrey 5'10" (178cm) Bantamweight 8-1-0 Us
Dave Legeno N/A 4-3-0 Gb
David Yost 5'11" (181cm) Heavyweight 9-3-0 Us
"Danger" David Breetzke 5'8" (172cm) Featherweight Am 6-1-0 Za
Dawid "Kiciao" Żywica 5'7" (170cm) Flyweight 10-7-1 Pl
Dawid "Dr. Gun" Mora 5'11" (181cm) Heavyweight 3-1-0 Pl
Dom "I Hate You So Much" O'Grady 5'11" (181cm) Welterweight 16-8-1 Us
Donshay White 6'0" (183cm) Heavyweight Am 1-1-0 Us
Doug Bolanes 5'10" (178cm) Middleweight 2-0-0 Us
Douglas Dedge N/A 0-1-0 Us
Eduardo "Morpheus" Maiorino 6'2" (188cm) Heavyweight 3-10-0 Br
Emmanuel "Manny" Yarborough 6'8" (204cm) Heavyweight 1-2-0 Us
Eric "Cangaceiro" Hansen 6'1" (185cm) Welterweight 1-2-0 Br
Evan Tanner 6'0" (183cm) Middleweight 32-8-0 Us
Fernando "Kikito" Martinez N/A Lightweight 0-0-0 Pr
František "Franco" Smetánka N/A Light Heavyweight 4-5-0 Cz
Gilbert "El Peligro" Aldana 6'1" (186cm) Heavyweight 6-2-0 Us
Grant Shanaman 5'7" (170cm) Welterweight 1-1-0 Us
Guilherme "Kioto" Rodrigues 5'8" (173cm) Lightweight 19-9-0 Br
Guram Gugenishvili 6'5" (196cm) Heavyweight 12-2-0 Ge
Hans Nijman 6'0" (183cm) Heavyweight 9-7-0 Nl
Helio Gracie N/A 0-0-0 Br
Ibrahim Tody 5'8" (173cm) Featherweight 1-0-0 Us
Igor Sliusarchuk 6'2" (188cm) Light Heavyweight 22-10-0 Ua
Iyori Akiba 5'6" (168cm) Flyweight 3-2-0 Jp
Jared Platt 6'2" (188cm) Middleweight 1-0-0 Us
Jason Pacheco 5'11" (180cm) Flyweight 1-0-0 Us
Jeremy "Bill Bob Bills" Williams 6'2" (188cm) Middleweight 7-2-1 Us
Jianbing Yang 5'6" (168cm) Flyweight 5-1-0, 1 NC Cn
João "Rafeiro" Carvalho N/A Welterweight 1-2-0 Pt
Joe "JC Plenty of Skills" Camacho 5'9" (176cm) Featherweight 13-19-3 Us
John Thorpe N/A Light Heavyweight Am 2-1-0 Us
Jordan "Pretty Boy" Parsons 5'9" (176cm) Featherweight 12-2-0 Us
Josh "Anqa" Samman 6'3" (191cm) Middleweight 11-4-0 Us
Józef Warchoł 5'10" (177cm) Heavyweight 1-3-0 Pl
JP Cole 5'9" (175cm) Bantamweight 2-3-0 Us
Justin "The Executioner" Levens 5'10" (178cm) Middleweight 9-8-0 Us
Justin Eilers 6'1" (186cm) Heavyweight 19-7-1 Us
Justin Rodriguez 6'4" (193cm) Light Heavyweight 0-1-0 Us
Juvaunne Gordon 5'8" (173cm) Lightweight Am 4-3-1 Jm
Kade "Katastrophe" Moes N/A Flyweight Am 4-0-0 Us
Kenny Chavez 5'7" (170cm) Welterweight Am 0-2-0 Us
Kevin Rosier 6'4" (194cm) 2-6-0 Us
Kevin "The Monster" Randleman 5'10" (178cm) Light Heavyweight 17-16-0 Us
Kimbo Slice 6'2" (188cm) Heavyweight 5-2-0, 1 NC Bs
Kirk Andrew Florian N/A Featherweight Am 3-0-0 Us
Koichiro Kimura 6'0" (183cm) 1-2-0 Jp
Lance "The Destroyer" Sawyer 5'5" (165cm) Lightweight Am 3-4-0 Us
Leandro Feijão 5'3" (160cm) 1-5-0 Br
Luiz "Luizinho" de França 5'11" (180cm) 3-0-0 Br
Mansur "Hunter" Denilkhanov 5'6" (168cm) Featherweight 2-0-0 Ru
Matt "Twin Tiger" Foki 5'7" (171cm) Heavyweight 5-4-0, 1 NC Nz
Matthew Richardson 5'11" (180cm) Welterweight 1-1-0 Ca
Mauricio "Hostile" Zingano 5'9" (176cm) 2-0-1 Br
Michael Cockerham 6'5" (196cm) Light Heavyweight 9-16-0, 1 NC Us
Michał Skupiński N/A Welterweight 0-3-0 Pl
Mike Bitonio 6'1" (185cm) Heavyweight 0-1-0 Us
Mitchell Wood N/A Light Heavyweight Am 0-1-0 Us
Musail Allaudinov N/A Welterweight 11-5-0 Ru
Ramon Dekkers 5'8" (173cm) 0-1-0 Nl
Remigijus Morkevičius 5'6" (168cm) Featherweight 16-5-0 Lt
Robert Conner 5'11" (181cm) 10-4-0 Us
Roberto "Ogro" Aires 5'10" (178cm) Middleweight 1-0-0 Br
Rocky "The Outlaw" Batolbatol 5'7" (170cm) Featherweight 5-3-0 Ph
Roman Gudochkin 6'3" (190cm) Light Heavyweight 0-1-0 Ru
Rondel Clark 5'7" (170cm) Welterweight Am 1-1-0 Us
Ross "The Grizz" Clifton 6'8" (204cm) Super Heavyweight 6-10-0 Us
Roy Allison Jr. 5'9" (175cm) Bantamweight 3-5-0 Gb
Ryan "The Big Deal" Jimmo 6'1" (186cm) Light Heavyweight 19-5-0 Ca
Ryan Groft 5'11" (180cm) Lightweight Am 1-2-0 Us
Ryan Gracie 5'9" (176cm) Light Heavyweight 5-2-0 Br
Sam Vasquez N/A 1-2-0 Us
Sam Young 5'8" (173cm) 0-1-0 Us
Scott Edward 5'11" (181cm) Light Heavyweight 0-1-0 Ca
Scott "Bam Bam" Bigelow 6'2" (188cm) Heavyweight 0-1-0 Us
Sean O'Haire 6'6" (199cm) Super Heavyweight 4-2-0 Us
Shane Del Rosario 6'4" (193cm) Heavyweight 11-2-0 Us
Shawn Tompkins 5'10" (178cm) Middleweight 0-4-0 Ca
Shayne "Omac" Stephenson 5'7" (170cm) Featherweight Am 2-8-0 Us
Sherman "The Tank" Pendergarst 6'1" (186cm) Heavyweight 11-18-0, 1 NC Us
Shohei Nomitani N/A Flyweight 3-1-3 Jp
Silvio Romero Da Silva N/A Featherweight 0-3-0 Br
Sung Jun Yoon 6'0" (183cm) Lightweight 1-1-0 Kr
Tim "The Thrashing Machine" Hague 6'4" (193cm) Heavyweight 21-13-0 Ca
Todd Schmauss N/A Light Heavyweight 4-1-0 Us
Tommy "Gun" Truex 5'9" (176cm) Lightweight 8-4-0 Us
Tony "The Viking" Halme 6'4" (194cm) Heavyweight 0-4-0 Fi
Tyrone "Teestea" Mims 5'11" (180cm) Middleweight Am 0-1-0 Us
Victoria "Victorious" Berkshire 5'5" (165cm) Am 2-2-0 Us
Wyatt Lewis N/A 4-2-0 Ca
Yanfei Zhao N/A Bantamweight 0-2-0 Cn
Zakir Lalashov N/A Middleweight 2-2-0 Az
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