Evan Tanner: A Man in the Wilderness
"I like to live life on the edge; living life to its fullest is my thing!"
At age 37, former UFC Middleweight Champion Evan Tanner of Oceanside, California was found dead in the rugged high desert near the California-Arizona border days after setting out on a lone camping and hiking trip.
Close friends and relatives of Tanner's had reported him missing late on Friday September 5th, 2008 due to their concerns that he remained unreachable by cell phone.
There was some initial speculation that Tanner, who had a somewhat troubled personal history, including bouts with alcoholism, had possibly committed suicide. However, it's now being reported that he actually may have succumbed to the desert heat during an attempt to reach civilization after his motorcycle broke down in a barren area of the region.
Although the nearby Imperial County Sheriff's office representatives initially stated that authorities had not formally identified the body of the deceased, it has since been confirmed that the remains are indeed that of the beloved MMA fighter and USFW Heavyweight Champion.
An avid outdoorsman, this unfortunate report on Tanner has an eerie twist to his sad tale due to the fact that he may have predicted his own demise. On August 16th, the adventurer had written in his travel blog that he was going far out into the desert where any failure of his camping gear and survival equipment might cost him his own life. His blogs often stated that he had an insatiable desire for adventure and exploration. He'd even described his appetite for being one on one with nature. Tanner once wrote, “The thought of hunting through the deep reaches of the untracked desert for lost gold or treasure fascinates me."
Many believe Tanner wasn't seeking material treasures...only self discovery and personal enlightenment.
Responding to media concerns prior to his plans for a big desert adventure in a blog posted on Aug. 27, Tanner responded, "It seems some MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) 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," he wrote. "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 my motorcycle, and shoot some guns," he continued. "Sounds like a lot of fun to me. A lot of people do it. This isn't a version of 'Into the Wild.'”
AMAM spoke with one MMA promoter that shared mutual shock after hearing of Evan’s demise, “I cannot believe this, I spoke to him on the telephone only a short while ago and enjoyed our conversation. We felt so distraught about this news that we have decided not to auction off a special autographed t-shirt he sent to us and we are now going to return it back to Tanner's family.” the promoter sighed. “No doubt the MMA community will be speaking all about this terrible news.”
Evan Tanner was widely respected as an aggressive MMA fighter having accumulated an impressive fight record and a huge fan base. A frequent winner of several UFC bouts, including the Middleweight Championship, Tanner was also the only American to ever win the Pancrase Neo-Blood Tournament in Tokyo, Japan.
Born in Amarillo, Texas; long before his becoming a professional fighter, Tanner began his combative career as a championship wrestler in high school.
~Professional Mixed-Martial Arts Fight Record~
Wins: 32 / By Knockout: 8 / By Submission: 21
Losses: 8 / Draws: 0
6’ 0” (183 CM) / 185 Lbs. (84 KM)
Born: February 11, 1971 / Died: September 8, 2008 (Age 37)
First American to win the Japanese Pancrase Tournament in Tokyo, Japan
Winner of the 1997 Unified Shoot Wrestling Federation Tournament
Winner of UFC 18, UFC 19 & UFC 29
Loss to Tito Ortiz in UFC 30
Loss to Rich Franklin in UFC 42
Winner of UFC 45, UFC 48, UFC 50 & UFC 51
Loss to Rich Franklin in UFC 53
Loss to David Loiseau in Ultimate Fight Night 2
Winner of UFC 59
Loss to Yushin Okami in UFC 82
Loss to Kendall Grove in Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale
~Lost in the Wilderness~
In one of his final Spike-TV blog entries posted on August 27, Tanner wrote:
"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 had recently purchased a dirt bike, and on September 3rd he rode into the desert-like region north of Brawley, California to go camping with his new motorcycle.
According to Tanner's business manager John Hayner, Tanner called that afternoon to say that his bike had run out of gas, and that he would attempt to walk back towards civilization.
The recorded temperature that day reached 114 degrees Fahrenheit, and those concerned soon reported Tanner missing after he failed to contact them. His body was discovered by a U.S. Marine helicopter on September 8th, and the Imperial County sheriff's office has cited heat exposure as a preliminary cause of death.
Evan Tanner will be sorely missed by his loving family and dearest friends as well as his many admiring fans around the world!