Evan Tanner was a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter who dominated the sport in the early 2000s. Known for his relentless fighting style and unwavering passion for the game, Tanner left an indelible mark on the MMA world.
Tanner was born on February 11, 1971, in Amarillo, Texas. He grew up in a troubled family with an alcoholic mother and absentee father. As a result, he found solace in sports, particularly wrestling. He started wrestling in junior high school and continued through high school. In his senior year, he won the state championship.
Despite his success as a wrestler, Tanner ended up joining the army after high school, where he served as a medic. After his service ended, he moved to Utah to attend college but never graduated, instead dedicating himself to MMA training full-time.
Tanner made his professional debut in 1997 and quickly rose through the ranks due to his strength and technical prowess. He fought in various promotions before eventually joining the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) in 1999.
In his first fight at the UFC, Tanner took down Darrel Gholar in just 20 seconds, earning him "Submission of the Night" honors. This was just the beginning of Tanner's career-defining moments.
Over the next few years, Tanner amassed an impressive record of victories, including wins over Phil Baroni, Justin McCully, Elvis Sinosic, and Heath Herring. However, it was his fights against opponents such as Rich Franklin, Yuji Nagata, and David Terrell that cemented his reputation as a top-tier fighter.
Perhaps one of Tanner's most memorable fights was against Paul Buentello at UFC 53. Despite being smaller and outweighed by nearly 30 pounds, Tanner showed resilience, taking plenty of shots while also dealing out plenty of punishment himself. He eventually won the fight with a triangle choke submission in the third round.
Another standout moment in Tanner's career was his victory over Terrell at UFC 51. After taking several hard shots early in the first round, Tanner came back to knock out Terrell with a series of punches, earning him "Knockout of the Night" honors.
Tanner also had an unsuccessful shot at becoming Middleweight Champion when he faced Rich Franklin at UFC 42. Despite putting up a valiant effort, Tanner ultimately lost via TKO in the fourth round.
Despite his success in MMA, Tanner struggled with personal issues throughout his life. He suffered from depression and alcohol addiction, which he attributed in part to his difficult childhood.
In 2006, Tanner made headlines when he disappeared while on a solo camping trip in California. An extensive search by law enforcement agencies and volunteers eventually found his body ten days later. It was determined that he died of heat exhaustion and dehydration, likely brought about by trying to hike through rough terrain without enough water.
While Tanner's death remains tragic, his legacy as a fighter lives on. His relentless fighting style and unwavering passion for the game inspired many young fighters who followed in his footsteps. His contributions to the sport earned him a place in the UFC Hall of Fame in 2020.
Tanner will always be remembered as one of the most exciting fighters to ever compete in the MMA world. Rest In Peace Evan Tanner, you are still an inspiration to people all around the world.