Few details were available at the time the news of Johnson’s death first emerged. In the past month, Johnson’s manager Ali Abdelaziz made an ESPN plea for the MMA community to pray for the “Rumble,” revealing the severity of Johnson’s health problem for the first time.
Please join me in praying for him. Please say prayers for Anthony. “Johnson’s health is not good,” he stated. “They’ve been backing him [Anthony Johnson] [Bellator and Scott Coker]. And you have no idea how much help they’re giving them when they don’t have to.”
Rip an MMA Legend 🙏 “Rumble”
Anthony Johnson [1984 – 2022] pic.twitter.com/Q5qIovyhS6
— Mikey Thomas (@MikeyThomas1991) November 13, 2022
On Sunday, the news that Johnson had passed away due to a drug overdose was first revealed by YahooSport’s Kevin Iole. The ex-boxer succumbed to non-lymphoma Hodgkin’s and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, which led to organ failure.
According to WebMD, lymphoma develops when “lymph-node cells or lymphocytes begin to multiply uncontrolled,” leading to the formation of malignant cells with an aberrant potential to infect various tissues throughout the body.
In the most extreme cases, the systemic inflammatory disease known as hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) can be fatal.
Hyperactive histiocytic and lymphocytic diseases (HLH) occur when normally harmless immune cells mistakenly target healthy tissue instead of germs and viruses. According to PrimaryImmune.org, “histiocytes are phagocytes—cells that engulf and eliminate infections.”
As a boxer, Johnson was famous for his devastating knockouts. In his 23 victories, 17 were KO victories. His 2007 octagon debut was a 13-second finish, and he earned the nickname “Rumble” for good reason. He entered the UFC as a welterweight, a middleweight, and a light heavyweight. When last we saw Johnson in action for Bellator MMA, it was in May of 2021. He ended the fight in the second round with a knockout of José Augusto Azevedo.