Evan Tanner was one of those old school fighters everyone loved to root for. He was the true definition of a badass. The guy started wrestling as a sophomore in high school and won the state title his junior and senior years. Without ever training in MMA, his friends got him to enter a one-night tournament where he beat three guys in a row (including Paul Buentello) and won the whole thing. He’s been a dishwasher, a bouncer, a ditch digger, a baker and even a cable guy. But most importantly, he’s been a world champion and an inspiration to countless people.
If there was one fight to describe the man Evan Tanner was, it’s his fight with David Terrell. Terrell was a sizeable favorite going into the fight and was beating Evan early, almost submitting him with a guillotine. Evan rebounded, gained top control and pounded away at Terrell until the referee stopped the fight with only seconds left in the round. The man was on the brink of defeat, but refused to quit. He dug deep down inside and persevered in only a way Evan Tanner could.
Tanner passed away September 5th, 2008. He had gone on a cleansing desert adventure by himself, only bringing along water, camping equipment and his motorcycle. When his motorcycle ran out of gas, he called his friends to tell them he would walk back home. Unfortunately, it would be the last time they heard from him. A search and rescue team found him on September 8th, bringing heartbreak to all those close to him and the entire MMA community.
Evan certainly had his demons, but that’s just a part of life. Feel free to look more into what lead to his ultimate demise, but that’s not what this article is about (there is a great documentary on Evan’s life titled “Once I Was A Champion”). This article is about honoring the man that offered his own home to other fighters to come live in and train in. It’s about a man who has a champion and an inspiration to all. It’s about a UFC Hall of Famer who tragically left us 6 years ago today. RIP Evan Tanner, you have been and will continue to be missed by all.