How did Justin Thornton die? Former MMA fighter, 38, was on ventilator for 6 weeks
Former MMA fighter Justin Thornton died six weeks after he sustained injuries in his August knockout at BKFC. He was 38 years old. Dave Feldman confirmed the news of Thornton's demise to MMA Junkie on Monday, October 4.
"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. "We join the rest of the combat sports community in sending our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones." A heavyweight bout with Dillon Cleckler at BKFC 20 in Biloxi, Mississippi saw Justin Thornton being carried out of the ring on a stretcher. Thornton was knocked out 18 seconds into the fight, which was a rematch of their 2013 fight that Cleckler won. He was reportedly hospitalized since the fight, including being on a ventilator. An exact cause of death, however, hasn't been announced yet.
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Just read that Justin Thornton died as a result of this KO at BKFC 20 in August. So sad. RIP. pic.twitter.com/EWLjKm8mCT— Christopher Duett (@BethuneTheory) October 4, 2021
Joining the professional boxing scene in 2008, Justin Thornton appeared in 24 fights across his MMA career, making an 8-16 record. An update posted to Thornton’s personal Facebook page on September 23 informed 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.
Following Thornton's demise, Dillon Cleckler paid tribute to his opponent on social media. His statement read, "As a fighter, nothing prepares you for the news I received this morning on my way to training. Some of you may not have heard yet but my last opponent Justin Thornton passed away last night due to pneumonia. I can’t help but feel absolutely devastated about this because I’ve known Justin for years. Not many people know this but we fought 8 years ago and he told me right away he wanted the rematch."
He added, "Justin was a fighter his entire life and deserves nothing but respect!!! My thoughts and prayers are with Justin Thornton and his family at this time. RIP warrior."