UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner Found Dead

Former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner has been found dead in the Palo Verde mountain region of Southern California, according to reports from several sources on Monday evening.

Tanner conquered many obstacles. (UFC)
Tanner conquered many obstacles. (UFC)

Tanner’s manager John Hayner confirmed the death in separate reports on UFC.com and CagePotato.com. MMAJunkie.com cited Tanner friend Kyria McBrayer in confirming the death, which was first reported by the Imperial Valley News on Monday.

Tanner, 37, had reportedly been missing since last weekend. He staged a UFC comeback in 2008 after a two year absence to battle personal issues and alcohol addiction. Tanner last fought on the season finale of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter 7 on June 21, losing to Kendall Grove via split decision.

Known for his adventurous spirit and painfully honest blogs about his struggles, Tanner posted a blog entry on the Spike TV website, dated Aug. 16, 2008, about his latest upcoming adventure.

“I’m hoping that very soon I’ll be sitting out in the quiet of the desert beneath a deep blue midnight sky, listening to the calm desert breeze,” Tanner wrote.

“I plan on going so deep into the desert, that any failure of my equipment, could cost me my life.”

The Imperial Valley News reported that Tanner’s friends had been text messaging him and getting no response since last Wednesday, and contacted authorities on Friday to report him missing. A search turned up Tanner’s motorcycle at a camp site in Clapp Springs, in the Palo Verde mountains. Later, a sheriff’s deputy reportedly discovered an unidentified body while flying in the vicinity of the camp site.

Authorities had yet to confirm the body as Tanner when the MMA Junkie report cited McBrayer and Cage Potato cited Hayner as confirming that Tanner had died. According to Cage Potato, Hayner said Tanner went into the desert on his motorcycle and ran out of gas, and then attempted to walk out of the desert in the intense heat.

Tanner was one of the UFC’s most unique and eccentric fighters. He began fighting in 1997 as a one-time thing, searching for an exciting experience he could tell stories about later. When he realized he had a talent for it, he kept on going, using his fight income to support his never-ending thirst for adventure. In recent years, Tanner blogged frequently — and very openly — about his adventures, such as escaping his fixer-upper 1939 Tahiti Ketch sailboat as it sunk in the Pacific Ocean and suffering through a painful detoxification period as he quit drinking.

Tanner is tied for fifth on the list of all-time UFC wins with 11. His overall MMA record was 32-8-0 (11-6-0 UFC). He made his UFC debut on Jan. 8, 1999, defeating Darrel Gholar at UFC 18. He won his first and only UFC middleweight title at UFC 51 on Feb. 5, 2005, with a first-round TKO of David Terrell, and lost the title to Rich Franklin at UFC 53 on June 4, 2005.

Upon making his return to the UFC earlier this year, Tanner told CBSSports.com that despite all he had been through, his hunger for a new adventure, a higher plateau, and another great story to tell was still there.

“I’m just a little older, a little wiser,” he said. “Same adventurous spirit. Same guy.”(CBSsports)

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