HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) - UFC middleweight Josh Samman died Wednesday after spending nearly a week in a Florida hospital following a probable drug overdose. He was 28.
Dr. Craig Mallak, the chief medical examiner for Broward County, says Samman had been hospitalized for five days, two of which he was brain-dead, before being declared dead Wednesday morning at a hospice.
Mallak said toxicology tests had been completed and the cause of death would be listed as a probable drug overdose.
According to a report issued by the Hollywood Police Department, officers investigating a call of a possible drug overdose found Samman unresponsive but with a pulse Thursday night. Troy Kirkingburg, a friend and an MMA announcer, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say there were no signs of foul play.
The two were found by a friend, who called 911.
“This is just brutal. Such a talented guy. Rest In Peace Josh,” UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic wrote in a post on his Twitter account.
Samman, a Tallahassee native, began his professional MMA career in 2007. He eventually landed a spot on “The Ultimate Fighter,” the promotion’s competition reality show, in 2013. Samman fought on a team coached by Jon Jones, winning two bouts before losing to eventual champion Kelvin Gastelum in the tournament semifinals.
Samman then began his UFC career with three straight stoppage victories, including a debut knockout of Kevin Casey, Muhammad Ali’s son-in-law. But Samman lost his last two fights, with Tim Boetsch stopping him in the second round in July in his final bout.
“RIP Josh Samman,” UFC President Dana White tweeted Wednesday.
Samman was known as a thoughtful fighter who wrote and spoke about his sport intelligently. He self-published an autobiography and contributed to several MMA news outlets and UFC.com, writing on subjects ranging from his sport’s drug policy to his own battles with substance abuse.
Samman also wrote poignantly about his girlfriend, Hailey Bevis, who died three years ago in a single-car accident while texting with Samman.
“Josh Samman will be badly missed,” wrote Brian Stann, a retired UFC fighter and current commentator. “Never a bad word about anyone. Always thoughtful and kind. Awful loss.”
Samman co-owned the Florida-based Combat Night MMA promotional company, and the fighter’s family cited the promotion among his proudest achievements.
“The promotion has given hundreds of aspiring athletes the opportunity to display their skills in the hopes of pursuing their dreams as professional athletes and will be one of the many legacies Josh leaves behind following a life taken all too soon,” read a statement released by Samman’s family.
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