By now most people know of the news that Evan Tanner, former middleweight champion and UFC pioneer has passed away at the age of 37.
After hearing the news, I wanted to write an article about Evan. I enjoyed watching Evan in his fights and his will to fight was evident in all of his fights. I didn't necessarily want to write a sad memorial of a great man, but instead talk about his fighting career and the memories I want to remember Evan by, the ones inside the ring.
Evan Tanner began fighting in 1997 when he was convinced by friends to enter a local MMA tournament, hosted by the now defunct Unifed Shoot Wrestling Federation. Tanner won the tournament that night, defeating three fighters including former UFC Heavyweight contender Paul Buentello.
Tanner self taught himself grappling and submission fighting from instructional DVD's featuring the Gracie family. He also fought in Japan under the Pancrase organization with relative success.
Tanner's big break came at UFC 18 when he submitted Darrell Gholar by rear naked choke in the first round. He would win two more fights in the UFC before he was granted a title shot against Tito Ortiz. Evan, unfortunately was knocked out in the first round by a brutal slam by Tito, but this created a much more disciplined fighter and led to greater things for Evan Tanner.
Tanner began training with Team Quest, showing that he was ready to join the top tier of professional MMA fighters. Along with Randy Couture, Matt Lindland, Dan Henderson, and himself, they became a very formidable team and enjoyed many successes.
After losing to Rich Franklin at light heavyweight, Evan decided that it was time for an environment change and dropped down to middleweight which made him a very big and strong opponent at this weight class.
After beating Phil Baroni twice in some exciting and controversial fights, Evan was making a name for himself at the middleweight level. Tanner then defeated Robbie Lawler by triangle choke, thus giving him a shot at the vacant middleweight title against a young and talented fighter in David Terrell. Being an underdog in the title fight, Tanner overwhelmed Terrell in the top position, eventually forcing the ref to come in and stop the fight. Evan Tanner was the UFC middleweight champion.
This is where I am going to stop the history of Evan Tanner. Most of know what happened after this fight, but at this time, does it really matter? I want to remember Evan for all the great things he did inside the octagon and discuss the legacy he left behind at his young age.
Evan Tanner is gone, but his legacy and will to fight will be carried on by all of his fans and any young MMA fighter who saw him fight. I picked the picture above on purpose, because I would think this describes al ot of what Evan Tanner was like. Wild, eccentric, carefree. Evan died doing what he loved to do, being adventurous and pushing life to the limits. We should all take that away from this tragedy.
R.I.P Evan and you will be remembered for eternity.