Anthony Johnson, who starred in UFC and challenged for the light heavyweight title multiple times, has died after battling an illness. He was 38.

Bellator MMA, one of the promotions Johnson was in, announced the former fighter’s death on social media on Sunday. A Bellator spokesman said Johnson had been ill for more than a year.

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Anthony Johnson announces his retirement after his defeat to Daniel Cormier in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 210 event at KeyBank Center on April 8, 2017, in Buffalo, New York.

Anthony Johnson announces his retirement after his defeat to Daniel Cormier in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 210 event at KeyBank Center on April 8, 2017, in Buffalo, New York. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

“The BELLATOR family is devastated by his untimely passing and we send our condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time,” the company said.

Johnson posted a worrying message in September 2021 that he needed “as many prayers as I can get” and was in a battle that wasn’t COVID-19 related. Johnson then posted in May that he received information from a doctor that he had made “big improvements.”

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Anthony Johnson speaks to Joe Rogan after being defeated by Daniel Cormier in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 210 event at KeyBank Center on April 8, 2017, in Buffalo, New York.

Anthony Johnson speaks to Joe Rogan after being defeated by Daniel Cormier in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 210 event at KeyBank Center on April 8, 2017, in Buffalo, New York. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

In October, Johnson’s manager told ESPN that “Rumble” was “going through some health problems right now … he’s not doing well.”

His death reverberated across the MMA community on social media.

Johnson had 11 knockouts during his decade in UFC. He fought from 2007 to 2017 and lost twice to Daniel Cormier in light heavyweight title bouts. He competed in three weight classes during his time at UFC and became one of the most powerful punchers the company had ever seen.

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Anthony Johnson waits backstage during the UFC 210 weigh-in at KeyBank Center on April 7, 2017, in Buffalo, New York.

Anthony Johnson waits backstage during the UFC 210 weigh-in at KeyBank Center on April 7, 2017, in Buffalo, New York. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

He retired from UFC in 2017 and was competing in Bellator in 2021 before his health problems worsened.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

By Umiddoc