Cause of Death Revealed, MMA Community Mourns Passing of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson

Anthony Johnson, Bellator 258
Anthony Johnson, Bellator 258 Credit: Bellator MMA

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.

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.