Anthony Johnson’s untimely passing, first reported on Sunday, came as the fighter was battling Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis is a seemingly rare autoimmune disorder, while non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a grouping of blood cancers. The fighter, a two-time UFC title challenger, succumbed to organ failure as a result of the diseases.
Johnson was just 38 years old. The cause of death was first reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole. “Rumble” had previously announced that he was dealing with severe health issues, but had not disclosed the nature of the illness.
Bellator MMA, who Johnson had signed with in late 2020, debuting the following year, confirmed his passing Sunday evening.
“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,” the promotion wrote in a brief statement.
🙏 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. pic.twitter.com/TqZzN1wquY
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) November 13, 2022
Johnson appeared in the opening round of Bellator’s light heavyweight grand prix, defeating José Augusto Azevedo in what turned out to be his final mixed martial arts contest. That bout came after a multi-year retirement, as Johnson left MMA following a 2017 loss to Daniel Cormier to focus on other endeavors.
Throughout Sunday and into Monday, fellow fighters and members of the MMA community shared their response to the loss.
Heartbreaking to hear 🥺 gone too soon.. 🙏🏻 https://t.co/fqfzF3Uk8k
— Megan Anderson (@MeganAnderson) November 13, 2022
— Mike Goldberg (@GoldieOnTV) November 13, 2022
Incredibly saddened by the news. Rumble, you were one of the coolest and most realest human I’ve ever met. You gave me so much invaluable advice throughout my career and I can’t believe you’re gone. 💔
— Dan Ige (@Dynamitedan808) November 13, 2022
Life is short
— Jalin Turner (@JalinTurner) November 13, 2022
Man this is heartbreaking 🙏🙏🙏 https://t.co/8aoEyToKFP
— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) November 13, 2022
Can’t believe this. Condolences, love , and thoughts go out to his family. Such a great guy. He will be missed. https://t.co/aV75u6gGUu
— Gray Maynard (@GrayMaynard) November 13, 2022
— Frank Mir (@thefrankmir) November 13, 2022
Rip Rumble. Only met him once or twice, such a gentle giant, super sweet to me, the random new UFC fighter he had never heard of, biggest hand I ever shook. It’s a sad day to lose such a legend.
— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) November 13, 2022
Rest in Peace Anthony Johnson
Descanse em paz Anthony Johnson
— Charles 'DoBronxs' Oliveira (@CharlesDoBronxs) November 13, 2022
What an honor it was to have known this man. A grate example and inspiration for all around him! Rest in peace AJ. 💔🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/1jRyiG5Nm4
— Vicente Luque (@VicenteLuqueMMA) November 13, 2022
Crushed and devastated to learn that @Anthony_Rumble has passed away. AJ was one of the good guys, he was a great man with a huge heart. God Bless you AJ, I will miss you my brother. RIP Rumble
— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) November 13, 2022
Sorry to hear one of the coolest guys on the planet just passed away. Thx for all the great fights and many more laughs. Sending prayers to the Rumble family. I'm sorry for y'all loss. pic.twitter.com/BDcd6scnwE
— John Dodson III (@JohnDodsonMMA) November 13, 2022
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 pic.twitter.com/J527ToOtOO
— glover teixeira (@gloverteixeira) November 13, 2022
I discovered one of the greatest talents in MMA history outta LA hitting mitts at a small hole in a wall Chute Box gym. I asked him to train with me as I was getting ready for my upcoming fight. He was bigger, he was stronger and he respected that I had a fight coming up.. pic.twitter.com/y3qpqbd9Rb
— Josh Thomson (@THEREALPUNK) November 13, 2022
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 pic.twitter.com/HH2SO1dPj7
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) November 13, 2022