Guram Gugenishvili, an MMA heavyweight who made a name for himself in Europe and as an international prospect, has reportedly died as a result of injuries suffered in a vehicle collision. He was 28.
The news was initially made public Sunday morning through Russia-based MMA promotion M-1 Global's Facebook page.
"He was going to fight in Japan at the end of 2014 and come back to M-1 Global in 2015," the M-1 Facebook statement read. "He was a great athlete and a kind, open-hearted person."
No additional details were immediately available about the collision or Gugenishvili's injuries.
The native Georgian racked up a 12-2 record as a professional fighter and came to be known as a promising heavyweight prospect with the grappling game and heavy ground-and-pound to potentially make waves in larger promotions like the UFC.
Gugenishvili was sidelined from late 2012 to spring 2014 with injuries. He earned a first-round TKO victory over Tony Bonello in his return to action after 16 months out of competition.
The heavyweight spent the large majority of his career fighting under the M-1 banner, where he amassed 10 submission victories. He began his career in 2009 and in less than two years had drawn the attention of fight fans around the world by running his record to a perfect 10-0. Though he did not face a high level of competition in his international fights, he did win the M-1 Selection Western Europe tournament title, among other distinctions.
The key in-cage rivalry of Gugenishvili's career began rather inauspiciously in October 2010, when he choked out American Kenny Garner. Gugenishvili lost by doctor's stoppage in a 2012 rematch, then lost by TKO in their rubber match at the end of the year. Those defeats were followed by the extended injury layoff.