Kimbo Slice (1974 – 2016)
Kevin ‘Kimbo Slice’ Ferguson was a Youtube street fighter who decided to become a full-fledged mixed martial artist in 2005, after a video of a fight between ‘Slice’ and a Boston police officer, Sean Gannon, went viral.
Just three years removed from Youtube fame, Kimbo Slice would main event EliteXC: Primetime against James Thompson in just his third professional bout and make history. The 2008 EliteXC show was the first mixed martial arts event that aired in a prime time network television slot. At that point it the most watched mixed martial arts event of all time — with an average viewership of 4.85 million throughout and a peak of 6.51 million during the main event.
Ferguson’s television records would stand until the UFC brought a Heavyweight title bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos to FOX in 2011.
Although Slice gained notoriety as a vicious warrior on the streets, Ferguson wanted to be remembered as a family man outside of the cage.
“If they look at me, I just want anyone to realize that I”m a family man. I’ve got kids to take care of, and the UFC gave me that opportunity,” said Slice before his last UFC bout with Matt Mitrione.
Ferguson died of Heart Failure on June 6, shortly after he was admitted to a hospital in Coral Springs, Florida.
No autopsy was performed on the deceased 42-year-old, after a Broward County medical examiner cited there was no legal reason for one to take place. Slice had failed a pre-fight drug test in Texas a few months prior that revealed an anabolic steroid, nandrolone, was in his system prior to his final fight against Dada 5000 at Bellator 149.
Kevin Randleman (1971 – 2016)
Kevin “The Monster” Randleman was a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and his small waist, burly shoulders, and huge arms and legs made him a spectacle inside the cage. The heavyweight fighter was to MMA in the 90’s what Brock Lesnar was to the WWE and the UFC in the 2000’s — an athletic freak unlike anything fight fans had ever seen.
(The “Randle-Plex” from PRIDE Critical Countdown 2004)
Randleman competed in 33 professional MMA bouts in his career, having fought in prestigious organizations such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship, PRIDE, and Strikeforce.
Perhaps ‘The Monster’s’ most memorable moment as a fighter came at PRIDE Total Elimination 2004, as the underdog Kevin Randleman knocked out heavy favorite Mirko Cro Cop as announcer Mauro Ranallo made the call of his life.
(Mauro Ranallo’s must-watch call of Randleman vs Cro Cop from PRIDE Total Elimination 2004)
Immediately after the fight, Randleman darted over to Cro Cop and kissed the Croatian on the cheek as he consoled the still-recovering fighter.
“If you did not think I was scared coming out here fighting this man, you are wrong. I’m human, just like everybody. But I’ll go to Hell and back to fight for you guys,” said Randleman during the post-fight interview.
Randleman passed away at the age of 44 in February as a result of Heart Failure. He was only the second deceased UFC champion in history.
Ryan Jimmo (1981 – 2016)
Ryan Jimmo was killed in June after two suspects allegedly got into an argument with the UFC veteran in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and reportedly struck him with their car from behind and fled. The injuries resulting from the parking lot hit-and-run led to Jimmo’s death days later from blunt-force trauma.
The seven-fight UFC veteran went just 3-4 inside the octagon, but Jimmo is best known for his seven-second knockout victory of Anthony Perosh at UFC 149. The victory is still one of the fastest ever recorded inside the cage.
The two suspects, Anthony Getschel, 23, and Jordan Wagner, 21, were both arrested and charged in Jimmo’s death just days after the incident.
Josh Samman (1988 – 2016)
Josh Samman was a five-fight UFC veteran that died this year from a probable drug overdose at the age of 28.
— MyMMANews.com (@MyMMANews) December 9, 2016
The UFC middleweight was found unresponsive in a South Florida apartment in September of this year with a friend,Troy Kirkingburg, after the two reportedly overdosed on a mixture of heroin, Xanax, cocaine, and alcohol. Kirkingburg was ruled dead at the scene.
Samman’s death wasn’t ruled a drug overdose for sure because he was in a medically induced coma for so many days. The medical examiner said: “We do not have any specimen on Mr. Samman due to the length of his hospitalization.”
Samman is perhaps best known for his performance at UFC 181, where he defeated Eddie “Truck” Gordon with a vicious head kick knockout.
Jordan Parsons (1990 – 2016)
Jordan Parsons was hit by a Range Rover in Delray Beach, Florida on May 1 this year in an accident that claimed the young fighter’s life after further complications a few days later.
Dennis Wright was later identified as the man who struck Parsons and was charged with leaving the scene of a crash causing death, tampering with evidence and driving with a suspended license as a habitual offender.
The young American mixed martial artist was only active for six-years, having competed in just 13 professional bouts in his career, when he was killed. His career finished with a record of 11 wins and 2 losses since the time he made his MMA debut in 2010.
Jordan Parsons may be one of the fighters with the least public exposure on this list of 2016 casualties, but his death may impact the sport far more than any other — as it was announced in October 2016 that Parsons was the first fighter publicly diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) October 21, 2016
Parsons was just 25 years old at the time of his death, and his diagnosis may serve as the beginning of mixed martial art’s “CTE Era.”
Joao Carvalho (1988 – 2016)
Joao Carvalho died this year after he suffered a third-round technical knockout loss to Straight Blast Gym fighter Charlie Ward in April.
Guilherme Cruz of MMAFighting.com reported about the situation:
According to Nobrega Team, the medical staff of Total Extreme Fighting followed all the safety protocols after the fight, and rushed Carvalho to the Beaumont Hospital 20 minutes after the contest after he started to feel bad. Carvalho underwent brain surgery immediately and stayed in critical condition for 48 hours.
“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,” read the statement, “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.”
The Portuguese star was only 28-years-old when he died.
Ivan “J.P.” Cole (1990 – 2016)
Bellator MMA and Legacy FC bantamweight fighter Ivan Cole reportedly died after playing Russian Roulette back in June.
Blas Avena (1983 – 2016)
Blas Avena was a Bellator and World Extreme Cagefighting veteran that reportedly commited suicide this year at the age of 32.
Details about Avena’s death are scarce, but TMZ got to speak with the Las Vegas Metro Police Station back in May:
32-year-old Avena was found dead around 11:36 AM Wednesday morning in his Las Vegas apartment.
A spokesman for the LVMPD tells us, “Arriving police and medical personnel located an adult male who was pronounced deceased at the scene. As of now, the death is being investigated as a suicide.”
We’re told an autopsy took place earlier this week — but officials won’t name an official cause of death until further tests are completed.