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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 Imbesi N/A Welterweight 0-1-0 Us
Aaron "The Matza Brawler" Rajman 5'9" (175cm) Bantamweight 2-3-0 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
Aleh "Blessed" Tsukanau 6'4" (192cm) Heavyweight 0-0-0 By
Alex "F-14" Gong 5'11" (180cm) Lightweight 0-0-0 Us
Alexander Chursin 5'5" (165cm) Bantamweight 0-2-0 Ua
Alexander "Superman" Barbaryan 6'5" (196cm) Light Heavyweight 10-1-0 Ua
Alexey Nikiforov N/A Bantamweight Am 0-1-0 Ru
Andy "The Blue Eyed Samurai" Hug 5'11" (180cm) Heavyweight 0-0-0 Ch
Arkadiy Lisin 6'2" (189cm) Light Heavyweight 6-3-0 Ru
Arsen Karaketov N/A Light Heavyweight 1-0-0 Ru
Asa Stock 5'6" (168cm) Flyweight Am 2-4-0 Us
Aya "Aliya" Koyama 5'3" (160cm) 4-10-1 Jp
Behram Qasim N/A Lightweight Am 0-1-0 Pk
Bekzhod "Tank" Nurmatov 6'0" (183cm) Welterweight 10-2-0 Uz
Ben Quarmby N/A Middleweight 3-0-0 Au
Billy "The Mad Scientist" Rush 5'6" (168cm) Welterweight 2-3-0 Us
Billy "Mojo" Horne 6'1" (186cm) Light Heavyweight 18-5-0 Us
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
Brett Borza 5'11" (180cm) Middleweight Am 0-1-0 Us
"The Dragon" Bruce Lee N/A 0-0-0 Hk
Bruno Ferreira 5'9" (175cm) Featherweight 8-2-0 Br
Bruno "Kruel" Alves 6'1" (185cm) Middleweight 0-4-0 Br
Bryan Vetell 6'3" (190cm) Heavyweight 4-3-0 Us
Cal Worsham 5'10" (178cm) Heavyweight 13-10-0 Us
Carlos Gracie N/A 0-0-0 Br
Carlson "Meninão" Gracie 5'11" (180cm) Welterweight 0-0-0 Br
Casey Suire 5'6" (168cm) Bantamweight 6-2-0 Us
Chavous Smith 5'10" (178cm) Featherweight 8-6-0 Us
Chris "The Super Jew" Galinsky 5'11" (180cm) Super Heavyweight 3-3-0, 1 NC Us
"The Celtic Tiger" Chris Reed 5'10" (178cm) Light Heavyweight 5-2-0 Us
Christina "Hostile" Toth 5'7" (170cm) Flyweight Am 0-4-0 Us
Claudia Heill 5'9" (176cm) 0-0-0 At
Clinton Vernieu 5'9" (175cm) Lightweight Am 2-2-0 Us
Cody Glode N/A Featherweight Am 1-2-0 Ca
Cooper Gibson 5'10" (178cm) Lightweight 10-2-0 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
Cosmin Dusa N/A Bantamweight 3-2-0 Ro
Dai Yoshioka N/A 0-0-0 Jp
Dave Legeno N/A 4-3-0 Gb
"Danger" David Breetzke 5'8" (172cm) Featherweight Am 6-1-0 Za
David Yost 5'11" (181cm) Heavyweight 9-3-0 Us
Dawid "Kiciao" Żywica 5'7" (170cm) Flyweight 10-7-1 Pl
Dawid "Dr. Gun" Mora 5'11" (181cm) Heavyweight 3-1-0 Pl
Devin Carrier N/A Lightweight 1-1-0 Us
Dom "I Hate You So Much" O'Grady 5'11" (181cm) Welterweight 16-8-1 Us
Don "Nakaya" Nielsen 6'2" (188cm) Heavyweight 0-0-0 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
Dwight "The Fighting Cowboy" Ritchie N/A 0-0-0 Au
Eben Kaneshiro 5'10" (178cm) Welterweight 19-12-0 Us
Eduardo "Morpheus" Maiorino 6'2" (188cm) Heavyweight 3-10-0 Br
Edwin "El Tigre" Aguilar 5'10" (178cm) Welterweight 26-20-0, 1 NC Mx
Emmanuel "Manny" Yarborough 6'8" (204cm) Heavyweight 1-2-0 Us
Eric "Cangaceiro" Hansen 6'1" (185cm) Welterweight 1-2-0 Br
Eric Bledsoe 5'7" (170cm) Lightweight 4-4-0 Us
Erwinn Klausner N/A 0-0-0 Ee
Euclydes "Mestre Tatu" Hatem N/A 0-0-0 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
Glyan Alves 5'7" (170cm) Bantamweight 13-5-0 Br
Grant Shanaman 5'7" (170cm) Welterweight 1-1-0 Us
Grant "Bomber" Milwood N/A Light Heavyweight 0-0-0 Au
Greg Piper N/A Featherweight 1-3-0 Us
Guilherme "Kioto" Rodrigues 5'8" (173cm) Lightweight 19-9-0 Br
Guram Gugenishvili 6'5" (196cm) Heavyweight 12-2-0 Ge
Hans "Legs" Nijman 6'0" (183cm) Heavyweight 22-21-0 Nl
Hector "The Aztec Warrior" Pena N/A Lightweight 1-2-0 Us
Helio Gracie 5'9" (175cm) Featherweight 0-0-0 Br
Hiroki "The Japanese Wolf" Kurosawa 5'9" (174cm) Light Heavyweight 0-0-0 Jp
Hubert Numrich N/A Heavyweight 1-4-0 De
Ibrahim Tody 5'8" (173cm) Featherweight 1-0-0 Us
Igor Sliusarchuk 6'2" (188cm) Light Heavyweight 22-10-0 Ua
Isaiah "The Beast" Chapman 5'7" (170cm) Bantamweight 9-4-0 Us
Ivan "Samurai" Gomes 5'11" (180cm) Heavyweight 0-0-0 Br
Iyori Akiba 5'6" (168cm) Flyweight 3-2-0 Jp
JP Cole 5'9" (175cm) Bantamweight 2-3-0 Us
Jahreau "The Nightmare" Shepherd N/A Welterweight 6-2-0 En
Jakub Gałkowski N/A Middleweight 0-0-0 Pl
James Chappell N/A Am 1-1-0 Us
Jamie Levine N/A Light Heavyweight 4-0-0 Us
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
Joan "Chyna" Laurer 6'0" (183cm) Light Heavyweight 0-0-0 Us
Joe "The Father Of Modern Kickboxing" Lewis 6'0" (183cm) 0-0-0 Us
Joe "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
Jose Briegel "Gallito" Quirino 5'4" (163cm) 0-0-0 Mx
Josh "Anqa" Samman 6'3" (191cm) Middleweight 11-4-0 Us
Joshua Cutler N/A Middleweight Am 4-0-0 Us
João "Rafeiro" Carvalho N/A Welterweight 1-2-0 Pt
Justin Rodriguez 6'4" (193cm) Light Heavyweight 0-1-0 Us
Justin "The Executioner" Levens 5'10" (178cm) Middleweight 9-8-0 Us
Justin Eilers 6'1" (186cm) Heavyweight 19-7-1 Us
Juvaunne Gordon 5'8" (173cm) Lightweight Am 4-3-1 Jm
Józef Warchoł 5'10" (177cm) Heavyweight 1-3-0 Pl
Kade "Katastrophe" Moes N/A Flyweight Am 4-0-0 Us
Katy "Red Dragon" Collins 5'3" (160cm) Flyweight 7-5-0 Us
Kenny Chavez 5'7" (170cm) Welterweight Am 0-2-0 Us
Kevin "The Monster" Randleman 5'10" (178cm) Light Heavyweight 17-16-0 Us
Kevin Rosier 6'4" (194cm) 2-6-0 Us
Kimbo Slice 6'2" (188cm) Heavyweight 5-2-0, 1 NC Bs
Kirk Andrew Florian N/A Featherweight Am 3-0-0 Us
Koichi Watanabe 6'1" (186cm) 0-0-0 Jp
Koichiro Kimura 6'0" (183cm) 3-3-0 Jp
Lance "The Destroyer" Sawyer 5'5" (165cm) Lightweight Am 3-4-0 Us
Larry "Lionheart" Jarrett N/A Welterweight 0-0-0 Us
Leandro Frois 5'9" (176cm) Lightweight 12-6-1, 1 NC Br
Leandro Feijão 5'3" (160cm) 1-5-0 Br
Leo de Snoo N/A Light Heavyweight 0-0-0 Nl
Leon "Big Van Vader" White 6'5" (196cm) Heavyweight 0-0-0 Us
Lewis Ray "Skipper" Mullins 5'7" (170cm) 0-0-0 Us
Lodune "The Vanilla Gorilla" Sincaid 5'9" (176cm) Light Heavyweight 15-9-0 Us
Luan Oliveira 5'9" (175cm) Lightweight 4-2-0 Br
Lucky Mateo N/A Flyweight 4-0-0 Ph
Luiz "Luizinho" de França 5'11" (180cm) 3-0-0 Br
Mansur "Hunter" Denilkhanov 5'6" (168cm) Featherweight 2-0-0 Ru
Marcelo "Marcelinho" Piazza N/A Featherweight 12-9-0 Br
Masahiko Kimura 5'7" (170cm) Middleweight 0-0-0 Jp
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
Maxim "Mad Max" Dadashev 5'9" (175cm) 0-0-0 Ru
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
Mike "Beru-Chan" Bernardo 6'4" (193cm) Heavyweight 0-0-1 Za
Mitchell Wood N/A Light Heavyweight Am 0-1-0 Us
Mitsuyo "Conde Koma" Maeda 5'5" (164cm) 0-0-0 Jp
Muhammad "The Greatest" Ali 6'3" (191cm) Heavyweight 0-0-0 Us
Musail Allaudinov N/A Welterweight 11-5-0 Ru
Muslimbek "Muslim Momunov" Omonov 5'9" (175cm) Featherweight 7-2-0, 1 NC Uz
Nicholas "Ragin' Cajun" Gisclair 5'9" (175cm) Bantamweight Am 5-4-0 Us
Nokweed Devy 5'10" (177cm) Welterweight 0-0-0 Th
"Fighting" Nordin Ben Sallah N/A Welterweight 0-0-0 Ma
Norifumi "KID" Yamamoto 5'4" (163cm) Bantamweight 18-6-0, 2 NC Jp
Patrick Day 5'9" (175cm) 0-0-0 Us
Patrick Smith 6'2" (188cm) Heavyweight 20-17-0 Us
Paul "The Polar Bear" Varelans 6'8" (204cm) 9-10-0 Us
Pedro "Homem-Quiabo" Hemetério N/A 0-0-0 Br
Phil "The Great White Nightmare" Ensminger 5'8" (173cm) Middleweight 2-5-0, 1 NC Us
Philip Masterson 6'0" (183cm) Am 1-0-0 Us
Polina Kobzeva 5'9" (175cm) Lightweight 0-0-1 Ru
Preston "The Bogalusa Boogieman" Hartzog 6'4" (193cm) Heavyweight 1-0-0 Us
Raatbek Sanatbayev N/A 0-0-0 Kg
Ramon "The Diamond" Dekkers 5'8" (173cm) Lightweight 0-1-0 Nl
Redouane Bougara N/A Welterweight 0-0-0 Fr
Remigijus Morkevičius 5'6" (168cm) Featherweight 16-5-0 Lt
Rene Ayangma N/A Middleweight 1-0-0 Ca
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
Rodrigo "Monstro" de Lima 5'9" (175cm) Welterweight 9-3-1 Br
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 King N/A 0-0-0 Us
Roy Allison Jr. 5'9" (175cm) Bantamweight 3-5-0 Gb
Rudi De Loos N/A Heavyweight 1-1-0 Be
Ruslan "Hermes" Avasov 6'6" (198cm) Heavyweight 0-1-0 Kg
Ryan Gracie 5'9" (176cm) Light Heavyweight 5-2-0 Br
Ryan Groft 5'11" (180cm) Lightweight Am 1-2-0 Us
Ryan "The Big Deal" Jimmo 6'1" (186cm) Light Heavyweight 19-5-0 Ca
Sam Young 5'8" (173cm) 0-1-0 Us
Sam Vasquez N/A 1-2-0 Us
Sarah "Primal" Patterson 5'11" (180cm) Featherweight 5-5-0 Us
Scott "Bam Bam" Bigelow 6'2" (188cm) Heavyweight 0-1-0 Us
Scott Edward 5'11" (181cm) Light Heavyweight 0-1-0 Ca
Sean O'Haire 6'6" (199cm) Super Heavyweight 4-2-0 Us
Sergey "The Ukrainian Toughguy" Lashchenko N/A Heavyweight 0-0-0 Ua
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
Shinya Hashimoto 5'11" (180cm) Heavyweight 0-0-0 Jp
Shohei Nomitani N/A Flyweight 3-1-3 Jp
Silvio Romero Da Silva N/A Featherweight 0-3-0 Br
Stefan Sanderson N/A 0-0-0 Sc
Steve "Dr. Death" Williams 6'1" (185cm) Heavyweight 0-1-0 Us
Steve Vincent 5'10" (178cm) Lightweight 0-0-0 Us
Sung Jun Yoon 6'0" (183cm) Lightweight 1-1-0 Kr
Taro Miyake 5'7" (170cm) 0-0-0 Jp
Thomasz Kucharzewski 6'0" (183cm) Heavyweight 0-0-0 Pl
Tim "The Thrashing Machine" Hague 6'4" (193cm) Heavyweight 21-13-0 Ca
Todd Schmauss N/A Light Heavyweight 4-1-0 Us
Tom "Trauma" Sauer 6'1" (186cm) Heavyweight 25-12-0 Us
Tommy "The Rhino" Glanville 6'2" (188cm) Heavyweight 0-1-1 Us
Tommy "Gun" Truex 5'9" (176cm) Lightweight 8-4-0 Us
Tony "The Viking" Halme 6'4" (194cm) Heavyweight 3-7-0 Fi
Travell "Black Magic" Mazion 6'2" (188cm) 0-0-0 Us
Tyrone "Teestea" Mims 5'11" (180cm) Middleweight Am 0-1-0 Us
Utley "Eazy Killer" Meriana 5'11" (180cm) Heavyweight 0-0-0 Cw
Victoria "Victorious" Berkshire 5'5" (165cm) Am 2-2-0 Us
Vincent Arredondo 5'10" (178cm) Lightweight 2-2-0 Us
Vitaly Shkraba 6'4" (192cm) Heavyweight 1-1-0 By
Waldemar "Leopardo Negro" Santana N/A Light Heavyweight 0-0-0 Br
Will "The King" Penn 5'11" (180cm) Super Heavyweight 8-5-0 Us
William "The Armadillo" Joplin 5'7" (170cm) Bantamweight 18-15-0, 1 NC Us
Willie "The Bear Killer" Williams 6'7" (200cm) Heavyweight 4-6-0 Us
Willie Pastrano 5'10" (178cm) 0-0-0 Us
Wyatt Lewis N/A 4-2-0 Ca
Yanfei Zhao N/A Bantamweight 0-2-0 Cn
Yevgeniy "Trickster" Moskovchenko 6'1" (185cm) Welterweight 0-8-0 Ru
Zakir Lalashov N/A Middleweight 2-3-0 Az
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