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MMA star Justin Thornton has died at the age of 38 this week after suffering a brutal knockout during a fight.
Thornton was up against Dillion Cleckler in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship match two weeks ago (20 Aug).
He lasted 19 seconds before getting KO'd by Cleckler.
BKFC president Dave Fledman confirmed Thornton's tragic passing in a statement on Monday.
It read: "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.
"We join the rest of the combat sports community in sending our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones."
BKFC fighter Justin Thornton dies after suffering knockout loss at BKFC 20 #UFCvegas35 #UFC265 #UFC266 #UFCFightnight #MMA #UFC pic.twitter.com/uZJzpTYGj8
- MMA Hype Watch (@MMAHWatch) October 4, 2021
Based on a status written by his girlfriend Ambar Willard, on Thornton's personal Facebook page, the fighter was partially paralysed after the match and remained in hospital for weeks.
On 23 Sept, she wrote: "I've been with Justin on and off the past 7 years those who know me personally and have met me you guys know who you are I'm here with him and I'm never leaving, him and I are very much in love!
"As y'all know he is paralyzed he DOES NOT have a pacemaker.
"Here is as followed, he is on a ventilator, he has a tracheotomy, he is on ivs for infection in his lungs and medication for his spinal cord injury.
"I bathe him 4 times a week. I feed him when I am able and I give him drinks all the time.
"He watches his favourite tv shows and movies on my tablet... He makes jokes."
Tributes have been pouring in on social media since the news of his death broke.
RIP Justin Thornton. So sad anytime this happens in the sport https://t.co/QvTbA22eSJ
- SemiCasualMMA (@semi_casual_mma) October 4, 2021
Rest in Peace Justin Thornton
- #BEASTSZN (@AbhishekPW) October 4, 2021
One user wrote: "Just read that Justin Thornton died as a result of this KO at BKFC 20 in August. So sad. RIP."
Another added: "Sincere condolences to the family of Justin Thornton.
"This fatal night was his SIXTH CONSECUTIVE FIRST ROUND STOPPAGE.
"The 38-year-old survived the first five. The state of combat sports regulation in America is atrocious."
A third user wrote: "R.I.P Justin Thornton...sucks when someone loses their life in the ring or in the cage.
"Not a good look for BKFC to have a fighter die so early in the organization's lifespan."
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