The mixed martial arts world is in a state of mourning, as UFC pioneer Paul Varelans has passed away. He was just 51 years old. If you are a newer fan of the sport, you may not be too familiar with Varelans by name. After all, his entire career was just three years long, spanning from 1995-1998, in which time he went 9-9. To be clear, it was not the wins or losses that made Paul an important part of MMA history, it was when he competed. He was a part of the early days of the sport, making his pro debut at UFC 6. After that, he would go on to compete in the like of Pancrase, and the World Vale Tudo Championships to name a few. Over the years, he faced off against the likes of Kimo Leopoldo, Mark Kerr, Dan Severn, and Tank Abbott to name a few. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Paul Varelans (@paulvarelans) Paul Varelans Has Passed Away Unfortunately Paul Varelans lost his life on Saturday, at the tender age of 51 years old. This apparently came after a lengthy battle with COVID-19, which eventually took his life. According to reports, "The Polar Bear," as he was affectionately called, contracted the novel virus in December. He would fight as hard as he could, even being put in a medically induced coma, but in the end, he would succumb to the virus at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Paul Varelans (@paulvarelans) This is obviously heart breaking news, to hear of the passing of this 6-foot-8 gentle giant. He was a fairly popular face in the sport, after making the move from collegiate football, and he even had a brief stint as a pro wrestler. MiddleEasy would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the friends and family of Paul Varelans. His presence will absolutely be missed, but he will forever live on in MMA history.