RELEASE: MMA star Rumble Johnson battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a rare autoimmune disease before dying of organ failure at 38
- Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson died on Sunday after battling a mysterious illness
- It has now been revealed that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and an autoimmune disease
- Johnson reportedly died of organ failure related to the two conditions
- He was set to fight for the Bellator light-heavyweight title in September 2021
- The 38-year-old pulled out of the fight last year due to the unknown illness
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Decorated mixed martial arts fighter Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson died of organ failure stemming from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a rare autoimmune disease, haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, it has been revealed.
The 38-year-old died Sunday, but the cause of death was not immediately known until a Yahoo Sports report Sunday night.
Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a life-threatening immune disease, which mostly affects infants and young children. The prognosis means a mortality of 40 percent, according to Swedish research published in 2015 by the National Library of Medicine.
Decorated martial artist Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson died of organ failure stemming from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a rare autoimmune disease, haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, it has been revealed
Johnson’s HLH and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were not known publicly, but he pulled out of a 2021 Bellator fight due to a health-related issue. The problem persisted over the past year and his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, asked fans as recently as last month to “pray” for the fighter.
“Rumble, he’s going through some health issues right now. It’s very sad,” Abdelaziz said during an ESPN interview in October. “I think, I want everybody to pray for him. Pray for Anthony. It’s not going well. He is very strong, spiritually. But pray for him.’
Although he never specified what the illness was, “Rumble” opened up about the situation and explained how he was sick to fans on social media.
His post read: “Really wish I could go into detail about how sick I really am. Just know I need as many prayers as I can get and see you in 2022 God willing. Never been so scared of anything in my life but I have been strong with the support of friends and family.’
Johnson challenged for the light-heavyweight belt in the UFC on two occasions, both times losing to all-time great Daniel Cormier. They first met in 2015 at UFC 187 after Jon Jones was forced out, before a rematch at UFC 210 in April 2017 where Cormier won both by submission.
In his prime, he beat world champions such as Glover Texeira and Ryan Bader, as well as defeating the likes of Jimi Manuwa and Alexander Gustafsson. His most recent outing was a light-heavyweight Grand Prix bout with Jose Augusto Azevedo which he won by knockout in the second round back in May 2021.
Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson enters the arena before facing Daniel Cormier in their UFC Light Heavyweight Championship match during the UFC 187 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 23, 2015 in Las Vegas
Tributes from the UFC world, including Cormier, poured in after the news broke
Johnson challenged for the UFC light-heavyweight belt on two occasions, both times losing to all-time great Daniel Cormier, who shared his grief on Twitter on Sunday (pictured). They first met in 2015 at UFC 187 after Jon Jones was forced out, before a rematch at UFC 210 in April 2017 with Cormier winning both by submission
Tributes poured in from the UFC world on social media following the news.
Cormier paid tribute on social media, writing: ‘Villa my brother. For a guy who struck fear into the heart of so many people, Anthony Johnson was a caring person.
“From random text to check-ins during a loss. What a person he was, Rumble will be missed. Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair. Terrible news #RIP #Rumblesquad @Anthony_Rumble’
American MMA fighter Michael Chiesa wrote: ‘RIP Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson. One of the most prolific KO performers our sport has ever seen. My prayers go out to his family and all those affected by this tragedy.’
UFC commentator John Gooden added: “Heartbreaking to hear of the tragic news that Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson has passed away.
“I have a poster of him by my desk that looks powerful. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.’
Johnson reportedly had two children from a previous relationship.
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