Imperial County, CA—Just east of San Diego, UFC future Hall of Famer and former champion, Evan Tanner, born 2/11/1971, was found dead within the last few hours.
While the exact cause of death is not clear, one thing which is confirmed according to sources close to the scene is that this was not a suicide.
Many Internet rumors and chatter began to swirl around, suggesting Evan predicted and/or planned to end his own life. This is simply not true.
This incredibly tough and respectable fighter recently began a new training and nutrition regimen, prepared a new line of shirts to be sold, and as recently as today received a UPS delivery of a helmet intended to protect him when cycling.
None of these behaviors are even remotely suggestive of someone who had been planning to take his life.
John Hayner, CEO of DFS Sports (Driving Force Sports) and a close friend of Evan's, had been in contact with him very recently and also made it clear that he did not see one red flag that the man was looking to escape his life. According to Mr. Hayner, Evan Tanner was making changes and improvements to his lifestyle and health that were the acts of a true champion.
Evan was apparently in transit in the desert when his vehicle failed him and his cellular signal eventually did the same.
This is a great loss to MMA, sports, and to those who were fortunate enough to know and love this man. Evan Tanner is a former UFC Middleweight and USWF Heavyweight champion with a professional record of 32 wins and eight losses. Evan was also the first American to be victorious at the Pancrase Neo-Blood tournament in Tokyo, Japan.
He won his very first championship by defeating Heath Herring at USWF 7, and subsequently successfully defended that title five times. Tanner then won the UFC Middleweight title at UFC 51, stopping the rugged David Terrell with a barrage of strikes in the very first round.
Evan Tanner will be remembered for his talents, passion, and a level of likability that stood in defiance of anyone who judged the athletes of MMA as brutal men who merely came off of a bar stool to fight.
He will be missed.