Breaking News: UFC Fighter Evan Tanner Found Dead

September 8, 2008

MMA fighter and former UFC champion Evan Tanner has passed away, according to an official statement from the UFC and individuals close to the fighter. Tanner left for a solo desert camping trip last Wednesday in the Clapp Springs area of the Palo Verde mountains in California. Friends became concerned when they hadn’t heard from Tanner, and called authorities last Friday. Evan had chronicled the preparation for his trip here on in his exclusive blog.

On Saturday, Imperial County Sheriff’s sergeant Clint Erro stated that a search party had been deployed to look for Tanner that included the sheriff’s department rescue team, US Border Patrol, the Highway Patrol, and the Marines.  The sheriff’s department conducted a search by air and eventually discovered Tanner’s camp site with his motorcycle and camping equipment. They then discovered his body a few miles away from the site. Temperatures soared to 114 degrees in the area in the days Tanner was missing, but there has been no confirmation on the cause of death.

Tanner spoke about the reason for his trip on his blog on August 16:

It was motivated by my friend Sara's talk of treasure hunting and lost gold, and my own insatiable appetite for adventure and exploration. I began to imagine what might be found in the deep reaches of the untracked desert. It became an obsession of sorts.

Being a minimalist by nature, wanting to carry only the essentials, and being extremely particular, it has been a little difficult to find just the right equipment. I plan on going so deep into the desert, that any failure of my equipment, could cost me my life.

After Tanner's August 16 blog posting, some MMA sites were skeptical as to his reasoning for the trip. Tanner replied to them with the following quote in his August 27 blog posting:

It seems some MMA websites have reported on the story, posting up that I might die out in the desert, or that it might be my greatest opponent yet, etc. Come on guys. It's really common down in southern California to go out to the off road recreation areas in the desert about an hour away from LA and San Diego. So my plan is to go out to the desert, do some camping, ride the motorcycle, and shoot some guns. Sounds like a lot of fun to me. A lot of people do it. This isn't a version of "Into the Wild". I'm not going out into the desert with a pair of shorts and a bowie knife, to try to live off the land. I'm going fully geared up, and I'm planning on having some fun.

I do plan on going back pretty far, so I did mention in one of my posts that I wanted to make sure to have good quality gear. Any failure of gear out in the desert could cause a problem.

Tanner was a former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight and US Wrestling Federation champion. He had an MMA record of 32-8 and a UFC record of 10-6. He had recently attempted a comeback in the UFC, but lost both of his bouts. Tanner had recently admitted to struggling with alcohol.

An official statement on remembers Evan as someone who "loved life, the outdoors, and adventure."

Our thoughts and prayers are with Evan's family and friends.

Information from The San Diego Union Tribune was used in this report.