Former MMA fighter Justin Thornton has died after he sustained injuries in his August knockout at BKFC, president Dave Feldman confirmed to MMA Junkie on Monday. Thornton was 38 years old.
“This morning we were very saddened to be notified of the passing of one of our fighters, Justin Thornton, who competed at BKFC-20 on August 20, 2021,” Feldman said on Monday in a statement to the website. “We join the rest of the combat sports community in sending our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”
Thornton appeared in 24 fights across his MMA career, compiling an 8-16 record, but in his last fight against Dillon Cleckler — a rematch of their 2013 fight that Cleckler won — Thornton was knocked out 18 seconds into the match. He was hospitalized afterward.
Amber Williard, who identified as someone who’s been “on and off the past 7 years” with the fighter, posted an update to Thornton’s personal Facebook page on Sept. 23 saying that he’d been paralyzed, had a tracheotomy, and was on a ventilator, an IV for a lung infection and medication for a spinal cord injury.
An exact cause of death hadn’t been announced as of Wednesday. Thornton first joined the professional boxing scene in 2008, and last won an MMA fight in 2016 — a five-fight losing streak in MMA that featured five first-round stoppages and two knockout defeats, according to MMA Junkie.
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