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Ex-UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner dead at 37

A dead body discovered by Imperial County (Calif.) law enforcement officials near the Palo Verde mountain area on Monday has been identified as that of 37-year old former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner, according to the UFC via its official website.

A report in Monday’s Imperial Valley Press first revealed that Tanner had been declared missing over the weekend.

A motorcycle reported to be Tanner’s was discovered by a Clapp Springs area campsite on Sunday. Friends of Tanner had reported him missing on Friday after text messages sent to his attention had gone unanswered since Wednesday.

A sheriff’s deputy discovered the then-unidentified body on Monday while flying in the area in search of the missing Tanner.

In a blog entry submitted to Spike TV’s website on August 16, Tanner spoke of a potential camping expedition in the Southern California desert. He morbidly discussed the possibility of dying during the trip.

“I’ve been gathering my gear for this adventure for over a month, not a long time by most standards, but far too long for my impatient nature,” wrote Tanner. “Being a minimalist by nature, wanting to carry only the essentials, and being extremely particular, it has been a little difficult to find just the right equipment. I plan on going so deep into the desert, that any failure of my equipment, could cost me my life.”

Tanner last competed in Las Vegas on June 21 during in the main event of the live season finale for the seventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” He sustained a great deal of punishment in losing a split decision to Kendall Grove.

At one time Tanner had been considered a top-ten middleweight but had seen his performance decline in recent years due to age and personal problems. He made his return to competitive fighting this past March at UFC 82 after nearly a two-year absence.

84 COMMENTS
  • KneeToTheFace says:

    Editor’s Note: Insensitive comment deleted. Everyone, please continue to use this comment thread as a way to grieve and reflect on the life and death of Evan Tanner. If you have something negative to say, take it somewhere else. Let the man truly rest in peace.

  • jason says:

    I really hope this is not Evan. What a tragic end it would be for one of the best liked guys in the sport.

  • Ian says:

    Well this is just about the worst news to end a day on.

    I really hope this doesn’t turn out to be Evan.

  • steve24 says:

    “LOL EVAN TANNER”

    What does that mean? It’s now confirmed that it was him.

  • Seriously, fuck that guy.

    I love Evan Tanner and had to call my friend as his favorite fighter is Evan and tell him. This is terrible.

  • blase says:

    sad day for MMA. RIP Evan

  • Simon Cason says:

    This is one of the saddest things I ever heard. Evan Tanner was an idol to me, a hero for the things hes done in and out of the cage. I cant say that I dont believe it, because I had a feeling this would happen. Something about the way he lived his life these past 2 years. Evan will be truly missed. We all love you Evan. Rest in peace my man.

  • Jeremy says:

    Horrible, horrible news. Such a loss for the mma community. Evan will be deeply missed for sure.

  • NoRegrets says:

    All I can say is WOW!!!! RIP Evan you will be missed

  • Ian says:

    Yeah, confirmed now.

    I loved Evan’s candor and openness in discussing his problems. I was rooting for him his last 2 fights, but even more so for him to overcome those demons.

    Fuck this news.

    R.I.P. Evan.

  • Simon Cason says:

    One of The Greatest Human Beings Ever To Roam This Confusing World We Live In.

  • Mike A says:

    Wow that is soo sad, I feel bad for his family and anyone who new him. RIP

  • Darrin says:

    Cage Potato is reporting that this has been personally confirmed by Evan’s manager, John Hayner.

    I’ll admit, I’ve only been into the sport for less than a year, and that the only one of Evan’s fights I’ve seen was his loss to Kendall. With that said, in the past year I’ve been following blogs religiously, and when I first followed the link to Evan’s blog discussing his desert journey, my first thought was “That’s awesome, I admire this immensely.” My second thought was, “but, I doubt it’ll end well.”

    I admire Tanner as a person, even though I have little knowledge of him as a fighter. RIP.

  • rick says:

    damn i went to his high school my parents went to school with him thats crazy

  • woooburn says:

    this is so sad. even though the guy was a bit of a wild card at times, it was always refreshing to experience his honesty, and total lack of posturing that so many fighters fall back on. i wish more fighters would act human, instead of like some bravado fueled “spartan” or whatever other ridiculous persona they’ve crafted for themself. tanner definitely fell victim to the “changing of the guard” you guys posted about earlier, but damn if i didnt pull for him every time he fought. that fight with kendall was a tough one to watch (even if it did go to decision).

    sucks to says “you could see this coming”. especially from someone i related to more than most fighters. between tanner’s mental issues, and the recent incident with rampage, maybe the ufc will consider some sort of counseling services for their fighters… to help them deal with the stresses of fame and bouncing back from a tough loss. i dont know if they do… but i think they should consider a sort of “rookie camp” like other professional sports organizations have… to help fights deal with all the red tape and mental garbage.

    my heart goes out to his friends and family. he will be missed.

    p.s. kneetotheface can eat a bag of dicks

  • Rich S. says:

    oh my god..
    this is horrible, horrible news..

    man..

    i was going to say something but i’m at a loss for words right now..

    man..

    KNEETOTHEFACE, you’re soul-less..

  • jeff the drunk says:

    this is devastating news. this man was a true warrior and one of the most open, down to earth guys in the sport. he put it all out there both inside & outside of the cage. GOD REST YOUR SOUL EVAN TANNER, YOU WILL TRULY BE MISSED.

  • Evan says:

    Sad day…one of my favorite fighters…RIP Tanner.

  • Darrin says:

    UFC.com has picked it up. I linked under “website.”

  • Jesse says:

    Rest in peace Evan, you lived you life the way you ended it – on your terms. Not a lot of people can ever say that. Godspeed brother.

  • jeff the drunk says:

    HEY KneeToTheFace,
    you are a complete piece of garbage & a sick, sick bastard.
    do the world a favor a seek some professional help before you hurt somebody you mental midget.

  • BFit says:

    RIP Evan Tanner. You have always been a genuine person in your dealings with the media, fans, and other fighters. I saw you fight in Columbus at UFC 82 against Okami, and I will never forget that night. Although it didn’t go as planned, I wouldn’t have traded that night for anything. Thanks for the memories.

    Woooburn, I totally agree. As a professional mental health counselor, I believe that all professional athletes should have greater access to mental health services. There is definitely quite a bit of stress, physical and emotional, that fighters experience and professional counseling could be extremely helpful.

    Rest in Peace Tanner…

  • Simon Cason says:

    This page should be dedicated to Evan Tanner only. Just ignore morons like kneetothe…whoever you are.

  • Davey D says:

    Rest in peace Evan. You lived life your way and were an inspiration to many. Gone too soon…you will live in the hearts of many. Salute!

  • platypus says:

    crap this sucks, hoped it wasnt true when i read this on mma mania…RIP tanner

  • vxbposin says:

    RIP Evan

    He was a true warrior and a joy to watch in the cage. One of my favorite fighters for sure. He will be missed by all MMA fans.

  • screwface says:

    sad news, had a feeling he wasnt gonna make it past this year due to his depression. just hope he finds the peace in death he couldnt find in life. RIP evan.

  • Patrick says:

    Rest in peace Evan, I hope you find and enjoy as many adventures in death as you did in life, a life you never stopped living to the fullest.

    A sad time, he was a pioneer in the sport and a true survivalist and adventurer. He will be missed.

  • egad81 says:

    The first comment should be deleted out of RESPECT for Evan Tanner.

    I know Sam preaches freedom of speech but that first post is classless and I think that FUCKERS IP SHOULD BE BANNED.

    ILM Evan Tanner… you will be missed

  • Chris Hohn says:

    It is sad news to hear such a great Individual has passed. I for one know I have taken a lot of wisdom from the example he has set. Rest in Peace Evan!

  • Jay K. says:

    May he find the healing that he was looking for all of this time. Additional prayers to his family and friends as well. God Bless!

    Jay K.

  • Grappo says:

    Terrible news.

    I think we all knew that there was a good possibility we would be reading a headline like this in the near future, but it’s still very sad, and shocking. He was one of the originals, and always someone I would root for. He will be missed.

    Rest In Peace Evan.

  • darkmetal says:

    This is terrible news.

    I wrote about losing a close friend and also my cousin to suicide recently on mmajunkie.com, in relation to Tanner.

    It hasn’t been confirmed yet that this was suicide, but it does prove we need to keep a close eye on those close to us. If it ever happens to you, you will realize that it isn’t always to know. Sometimes those who seem the strongest and most independent are actually tearing themselves apart silently.

    It is our responsibility as human beings to keep in contact with those around us, as they often drift off before their final decision.

    And once done, it cannot be undone.

    Evan Tanner R.I.P. May God bless his soul

  • Mike says:

    oh.. ok. lol. that’s adorable. what kind of shitbag would possibly post that? whatever piece of of garbage who would post on a mma message board and disrespect Evan Tanner like that should really think about what garbage they throw out for every body to see. Tanner was a guy who started out and compiled quite a good record in the early days of ufc after watching instructional tape by bas rutten, then made his mark without a camp. The guy was a true inspiration for anybody who aspires to be an mma fighter.

    Dear,

    KneeToTheFace

    you are a piece of shit.

  • Sam Cupitt says:

    Man. I talked to him via email a few times. Great guy. One of my favourite fighters of all time.

    R.I.P.

  • Chris Hohn says:

    I know this just is so soon after Evans passing but is there some way we can petition to Dana and the people in power with the UFC to get Evan into the Hall of fame? I know it is kind of a minuet point in the grand scheme of things but he did so much for his fans, I think it is the least we can do to have such a great man who happen to be a damn good champion of MMA be remembered.

  • warcry says:

    It is always sad to see a warrior past on to the other side. His warrior spirit will live on in the lives he touched and the example he set.

  • Nick Merra says:

    This is really tragic…I had heard and read of some of the problems that Tanner was having in his life…A true warrior he was and a true warrior he will always be…..The ocean and the desert have claimed many lives…This is really sad news….

  • mmablaster says:

    Really sad to hear this. Tanner was a true warrior. RIP Evan.

  • The Judge says:

    God damn it. What a horrible day for MMA. How tragic.

  • Sway says:

    I have to second everyone else’s feelings. I rarely, if ever, reply to content on the internet but I had to for Evan. His blog was incredibly candid, his ideas thought provoking and honest, and I developed a tremendous respect for him as a human being. I don’t care that he lost fights, he was an incredibly soulful and thought-provoking man. The world is at a serious loss without him. I’m saddened and hurt that he’s gone. I hope everyone in the MMA community will pay him the respect he deserves and give him a true and thoughtful goodbye. Take care Evan. You were more than this world could handle, and I hope you find what you need wherever you may be. Rest in peace my friend.

  • DURONSKI says:

    Evan Tanner was a great fighter and one hell of an american. He will be missed and i hope the afterlife is kind to him.

  • Sabotage says:

    RIP Tanner. You will be greatly missed by your family, friends, and fans…

  • Ryan says:

    What an unexpected shock. Any of us could go at any time. I’m sure Evan is in a better place.

  • Loco541 says:

    RIP Tanner, this is indeed some of the most saddest news i have heard in a while, God Bless you Evan Tanner, you were a true inspiration

  • Rich S. says:

    contrary to what some of you may believe, CagePotato.com reads: “Hayner said that Tanner had gone into the desert on a motorcycle expedition and had run out of gas. Tanner was attempting to walk out of the desert, Hayner said, but apparently didn’t realize how far away from civilization he was and died of exposure in the triple-digit heat. Tanner’s empty campsite was spotted Sunday, and an aerial search located his body earlier this afternoon.”
    UFC.com still reads that his cause of death is unkown.. so, i don’t know how reliable that is.. but, it was stated by Evan’s agent.. so..

    some of the commentors here made it sound like his death may have been deliberate, or an act of suicide.. god forbid..

    so, i figured i would run that by..

    also,
    “His agent, John Hayner, says that Tanner was excited about the trip and in a good place physically and mentally before his untimely death.”

    sounds as though he was geniunely.. happy.

    RIP Evan, you’ll forever be missed as one of the biggest hearts in MMA..

  • Chris Lyons says:

    Very sad news. I never met the guy, but I was always rooting for him.
    R.I.P.

  • one yahoo writer put a title that fits evan tanner like a mma glove.

    Marched to his own beat

    bless you heart and soul evan tanner. You reminded us that fighters of every type came to brawl for what they believed in. You believed in oneself and determination.

    thank you.

  • Angry Fight Fan says:

    Terrible news. There wasn’t a fighter I wanted to see win more then Tanner, so I guess that makes him my favourite. RIP.

  • BlazeHoliday says:

    RIP Evan Tanner. God be with you.

  • Lord Faust says:

    This is bullshit. ‘Guy seems to get his head right, and now this. :(

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    I’ve been watching Evan Tanner fight for almost a decade now, since his UFC debut.

    What originally drew me to him was that here was a guy, self-taught and trained, whopping up on fighters who had camps, trained with others, all that.

    I was heartbroken when Ortiz slammed him into unconsciousness but I always knew he’d be back.

    I was ecstatic when I heard he was dropping to 185. He worked his way to a MW title shot against David Terrell and in one of the greatest showings of heart ever, won the strap via TKO.

    Seriously… if you want the definition of heart and warrior spirit, watch this fight.

    His personal demons started to affect him professionally, it seemed and a self-imposed two-year exodus did little to sharped his skills. A rusty, and I hate to say, unmotivated Tanner showed up against Okami and Grove where a dynamic, well-rounded fighter once stood.

    I can only hope that in the days leading up to his death, he was happy and in the closing moments of life, he came to terms with himself, flaws included.

    I hope he knows how much he affected people during his life and especially now that’s he gone.

    He will truly be missed by his friends, family, and MMA fans all around the world who want their fighters tough yet humble.

    Rest in peace, Evan Tanner. I pray you have found the peace you were looking for in life.

  • rob says:

    I just want to add that I share the setiments of everone except kneetotheface………RIP EVAN

  • Jeremy says:

    There is a short tribute video to Evan up on Youtube right now if anyone would like to view it, certainly a very nice tribute to a great person and fighter:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vo8DMJXq5s

  • Damo says:

    Fuck hey.

    He obviously knew the risks, but took them on anyway.

    Sad to see him go at all, let alone out this way.

  • Joel says:

    May g-d rest his soul in heaven. A true free spirit. Taken too soon.

  • JTM says:

    It’s too bad the toughest battles Tanner had to fight weren’t in the cage, but he was a true warrior in every sense and will be remembered well. Our thoughts are with his loved ones.

  • Eric says:

    Evan was not only an inspiration to fighters but to everyday people as well. His battles were well-documented and it was great to see him rise against them and seem to be in a peaceful state as he enjoyed his many adventures. He will be missed terribly.

  • woooburn says:

    jeremy: thanks for the link. i forgot about that bomb he hit franklin with. and the fact that he used to rock the high tops back in the day. funny seeing those old clips with hardily any logos in the octagon. good memories.

  • Kung Foo says:

    This is indeed sad. Even though he was a bit eccentric, I met this guy a few months ago in Vegas where he was doing some signatures for the Memorial Day UFC, and after all the other fighters and staff left. This guy stayed behind for an extra hour to take pictures and sign autographs with fans that didnt get a chance during the official sign in. Class act.

  • GassedOut says:

    Another warrior gone to guard the gates of Heaven. I pray he can find the rest he was looking for now that he couldn’t find here. Rarely does a man come along that is so open and honest about his own life and problems. Guard well, brother.

  • Young Duby says:

    RIP, Evan. Although many of us never met you in person, we feel like we did. Because of your blog, your wars in the octagon, your story and your connection to the human condition, you surpassed the moniker of “fighter” or “mixed-martial artist”. You’re an inspiration, an innovator and a tragedy. You will be sorely missed.

  • JollyDV says:

    Godspeed Evan. May all the pain that you endured in this life not follow you into the next.

    Thank you for all the joy and excitement that you gave to MMA fans. May you find peace and tranquility on your journey.

    To the family and friends that you have left behind, my deepest sympathy. God Bless.

  • JOE says:

    JUST BELIEVE

  • Schlegel says:

    RIP Evan, the world will forever miss you.

    My prayers are with his family, friends, and the whole MMA community. May he live on forever in our hearts.

  • Jackyl says:

    Defenitely horrible news. I always appreciated Evan’s work ethic and heart. I always hoped he would be able to get back on track and get a few more wins under his belt before he retired for good. He will be missed.

  • Justin B says:

    My thoughts go out to his family and loved ones. Terrible news

  • Mike D says:

    rest in peace evan the mma world has truly lost one of its greatest

  • john says:

    R.I.P Evan, you will be missed.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    I’m sorry for the guy, but more sorry for his family, assuming he had any. I suppose it’s admirable on some level to live life on your own terms, but at some point doesn’t it become selfish and insensitive to your loved ones? They’re the ones left with the emotional consequences of bad decisions like going into extreme conditions with insufficient equipment and provisions.

  • j mac says:

    RIP Evan Tanner huge heart no back up or quit in this fighter thanks for the memories and you wont be forgotten.

  • Greg Urb says:

    RIP EVAN!

  • TEACHER says:

    Very upsetting news. I always liked Evan Tanner and felt for the hard times that befell him towards the end of his life. I would encourage his friends and teammates to set up a fund to offset funeral expenses and to post this information on the internet. I would like to contribute to the cause.

  • razzle says:

    RIP Evan Tanner.

  • Ken says:

    rest in peace brother. your life affected many others in a positive way.

  • MMAsubb says:

    Seriously, its a horrible tragedy. I knew he had his battles with depression and alcohol, etc. but to finally hear that it got the most of him hurts to the heart. Rest well Mr. Tanner, MMA and the world will miss a great person like you!

  • glock says:

    I’ve been so busy I just got the the sad news.

    Evan seemed to be a very complicated guy. I REALLY liked him he was one of the “Good Guys”–never got a chance to meet him but but a couple of people I know that did meet/know him on more than one occasion said he was a great guy- consistently- humble, affable, friendly and open.
    I too felt for his hard times and final resolve to straighten himself out . I often checked out his blog.
    Teacher and Mike Wolfe echo much of what i’m thinking.

    I gotta say when I got the text from my buddy, I asked if it was a suicide…. But from what I’ve read so far, it seems maybe/probably not; just Evan doing what he always did, what he couldn’t help but do ……..pushin’ the envelope.

    I hope you’ve found some peace .
    Thanks for all you gave us, See ya on the other side…..
    R .I .P

  • Ryan Seacrest says:

    I watched Evan early in his career and I must say that he was one of the toughest SOBs in the cage. That fight against Franklin where he just would not give in proves that he had a huge heart. His open struggles in life and to see him make a return to the octagon was huge by any measure. Rest In Peace Even. Thanks for all of the memories!!!

  • Tony says:

    R.I.P. Brother. You will be missed. One of my favorite fighters to ever step into the cage.

  • RBeezy says:

    sucks…I think I liked him more as a human being than as a fighter, and that’s what matters most.

    r.i.p.

  • Batman says:

    Rest in Peace Evan You were a champion and no one can take that from you.

  • THORAZINE says:

    Evan Tanner was simplistic , yet a complicated man. Perhaps this was a moment in time he manufactured to lead him down a different path in life or let God and Nature take him.

    Evan Tanner lived and left on his own terms rather than live by society’s norms. I’m going to celebrate the life you lived rather than mourn the legacy you left.

    R.I.P Evan Tanner… Thank You for the Great MMA memories you were a man that was admired by many, not always for the words you spoke but always for the spirit you carried inside.

  • Alab Aster says:

    I knew Evan in highschool wrestling. He was a goofy kid back then, but even then, he was his own man. I admire that he took it all the way. What a heart..

  • james jones says:

    i don’t browse very much on the internet so i just found out today about evan tanner’s unfortunate death he was one of my favorites. key knee to the face if i knew who you were pal, believe ME when i tell you, i’d give you a knee to the face and rent your ass out bitch made punk!!!!!!!!!

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