The MMA Fighters Who Passed Away In 2016

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January 2, 2017 Sarah Kurchak

In Memoriam: The MMA Fighters Who Passed Away In 2016

This article was originally published on FIGHTLAND

Although there's plenty of evidence that 2016 has not been the literal worst year ever, it won't exactly go down as humanity's most beloved spin around the sun, either. Politics, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and a seemingly endless wave of prominent deaths – and the overwhelming reporting of all of the above, thrown at us much faster than our brains can process – have made the past 365 days feel like an endless slog through misery and heartbreak. And the MMA community has not been left untouched by this tragedy. Not only did we lose a hero in boxing, cultural legend and all-around GOAT in the form of Muhammad Ali, we also witnessed the deaths of a number of mixed martial artists.

Here's a look back at some of the fighters who passed away in 2016:

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Kevin Randleman
10 August 1971- 11 February 2016

PRIDE, Strikeforce and UFC legend and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Kevin Randleman died of a heart attack on 11 February after being hospitalised with pneumonia. He was 44 years old. "Those who saw him at his peak will always remember his feats of athleticism in the ring and those who had a chance to speak with him or hear him at seminars will always remember him for the thoughtful, introspective man who shone through from underneath the muscled, almost superhuman exterior," our own Jack Slack wrote in his look back at the highs and lows of Randleman's storied career.

João Carvalho
1988- 11 April 2016

The young Portuguese MMA fighter was hospitalised when he started feeling sick after a rough TKO loss to Charlie Ward, in what was only his third professional fight at Total Extreme Fighting 1 (see here for Fightland's full report on the incident). According to a statement released by Nobrega Team, he died at 9:35pm in Dublin on Monday, 11 April. "Even though we had the permanent medical care from the promotion's staff and the Irish hospital, to whom we thank for the support in this tough moment and even though we know the risks of this sport, Joao Carvalho's passing is, in my professional point of view, unfortunate, and makes us, his family and the entire Nobrega Team – which followed Joao Carvalho through his entire career, which gained notoriety nationwide and internationally – saddened and heartbroken," his team posted on Facebook.

Amokrane Sabet
1972- 2 May 2016

Amokrane Sabet earned only one victory in his four fight mixed martial arts career in the late nineties and early noughties. He also starred in a 2009 action film called K. Sources reported that the 49-year-old French national, who was living in Bali and was "controversial" among his neighbours, was shot to death by police after stabbing one of their officers to death while resisting arrest on 2 May. An autopsy released on 4 May indicated that Sabet had actually died of stab wounds.

Jordan Parsons
26 August 1990- 4 May 2016

Up-and-coming Bellator star and beloved Blackzilian Jordan Parsons died on 4 May, three days after he was the victim of a hit-and-run in Delray Beach, Florida (the driver, Dennis Wright, was found and charged later that month). "Jordan was an exceptional athlete and a rising star in the sport. But more importantly, he was an exceptional young man. Jordan was hard-working, dedicated, intelligent, and a pleasure to be around. He represented all the reasons we love this sport. It is a terribly tragic loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and teammates," Bellator President Scott Coker said in a statement.

Blas Avena
30 June 1983- 4 May 2016

Avena was a BJJ black belt whose mixed martial arts career included stints in WEC and Bellator. His last fight was a KO loss to War Machine in 2013. On 4 May, the 32-year old was found dead in a Las Vegas apartment. Police announced that they were investigating the death as a suicide, but did not immediately release the cause of death.

Photo by Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Ferguson aka Kimbo Slice
8 February 1974 - 6 June 2016

In the cage, Kimbo Slice, the viral street-fighting sensation turned professional boxer and Elite XC, UFC, and Bellator star, was a controversial figure. In real life, Kevin Ferguson the father, fiancé, and autism advocate was far more universally beloved. On 3 June, Ferguson was rushed to the hospital with stomach pains, nausea, and a shortness of breath. Diagnosed with heart failure, he was immediately put on a ventilator in intensive care and was about to be added to an organ donor list for a heart transplant. But it was too late. He died at 7:30pm ET on Monday, 6 June in Cleveland. Ferguson is survived by his six children and his long-term girlfriend.

Ivan Cole
30 November 1990- 11 June 2016

New Orleans native Ivan Cole was a professional mixed martial artist and Muay Thai instructor whose last fight was for Bellator in 2015. On 11 June, Cole was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in a Dallas apartment. CBS reported that he might have been playing Russian Roulette at the time of his death. "Some say it was about money, someone said something about Russian Roulette, but I don't have any facts now," Cole's mother told the New York Daily News of the tragedy. "I'm a bit devastated at this time." He is survived by his wife Kimberly and their four-year-old daughter.

Photo by Jason Silva/USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Jimmo
27 November 1981- 26 June 2016

Ryan Jimmo was born in Saint John, New Brunswick. He took up karate very early in life and soon added football, bodybuilding, and chess to his arsenal. Making his professional MMA debut in 2007, he racked up a 19-5 record over the course of his career, which included a three-year run in the UFC. On 26 June, mere hours after proposing to his girlfriend (whom he charmed with karate lessons and Gordon Ramsay impressions), Jimmo was killed in a hit-and-run incident in Edmonton, Alberta. He was 34 years old. In September, two men were charged – one with murder – in connection with his death.

Amar Suloev
7 January 1976- 27 June 2016

Suloev faced the likes of Chuck Liddell, Phil Baroni, and Chael Sonnen over the course of his decade-long career that included stints in the UFC and PRIDE, but his post-combat career was far less admirable. Turning to a life of organised crime, Suloev became a contract killer (his fall is detailed in this Bloody Elbow feature). While on trial for murder, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and was released on bail in May. He passed away in his childhood home in Anapa, Russia on 27 June.

Photo by Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

Josh Samman
14 March 1988, 5 October 2016

In addition to his promising MMA career – the Ultimate Fighter 17 star had a 12-4 record – Samman was also a promoter and a writer. He was a contributor to Bloody Elbow and and published a memoir earlier this year. The Housekeeper: Love, Death, and Prizefighting chronicles the many struggles of his young life, including injuries, drug addiction, and the tragic death of his girlfriend in 2013. Six days after he was found unresponsive in his Florida apartment, Samman was pronounced dead on 5 October. His death was ruled a probable drug overdose later that month.

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They are all rellatively young men RIP for the majority of them but a couple of them are murderers and probably dont deserve to rest so easy!!

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Randleman was an average fighter but Japan loved him

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