MMA fighter Justin Thornton has died at the age of 38, just six weeks after suffering a first-round knockout in bare knuckle boxing event.
Thornton was knocked unconscious in August in a bout against Dillon Cleckler at a BKFC [Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship] fight in Mississippi, falling to the mat face first after a sickening knockout.
The fight lasted just 19 seconds.
Thornton’s death was announced by BKFC president David Feltman.
‘This morning we were very saddened to be notified of the passing of one of our fighters, Justin Thornton, who competed at BKFC-20 on August 20, 2021,’ a statement read.
Posts on Thornton’s Facebook page claim he was hospitalised after the fight, left paralysed and on a ventilator with a spinal cord injury.
Before making his bare knuckle debut, Thornton was an MMA fighter who had competed in 24 bouts, taking on UFC veterans Chase Sherman and Walt Harris during his 13-year career.
His last six bouts, including against Cleckler in August, were all defeats coming in the first round with veteran boxing promoter Lou DiBella criticising combat sport’s governing bodies for allowing him to compete.
‘Sincere condolences to the family of Justin Thornton,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘This fatal night was his SIXTH CONSECUTIVE FIRST ROUND STOPPAGE. The 38 year old survived the first five. The state of combat sports regulation in America is atrocious.’
BKFC has grown in popularity since its formation in 2018 with former UFC fighters Paige vanZant and Chad Mendes those to fight under its flagship, with former welterweight boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi also competing in 2019.
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