What was the cause of former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner's death? 

Evan Tanner
Evan Tanner
Johny Payne

According to a report by the sheriff’s office in Imperial County, California, Evan Tanner’s official cause of death was heat exposure.

Evan Tanner was born on February 11, 1971. The MMA pioneer passed away at the young age of 37.

The Imperial County coroner estimated Tanner’s time of death to be somewhere between late September 4 and early September 5 in 2008. Nevertheless, Tanner’s date of death on the legal documents was recorded as September 8.

Evan Tanner was a fearless warrior until the very end

As noted in an article published on the UFC’s official website a few years after Evan Tanner’s passing, the former UFC middleweight champion was an adventurer at heart.

Evan Tanner created quite a buzz in the MMA community back in the summer of 2008, when he revealed that he intended to go out on a solo trip to the desert in Imperial County, California.

Certain sections of the MMA world advised against going on the trip, particularly alone. Tanner reassured everyone, however, that it’d be a fun trip involving camping, shooting guns and riding a motorcycle.

Tanner eventually bought a dirt bike and set out on his trip to the desert area west of Palo Verde, California. He left for the location on September 3. That very afternoon, Tanner called his manager John Hayner and informed him that his bike had run out of fuel. As per Hayner, Tanner told him that he’d walk back to his camp.

Nevertheless, this account was in contrast to a later report that Evan Tanner’s bike was found at his camp. Tanner had texted a friend that he’d travel back to camp later in the evening when the temperature would drop. The temperature in the desert on that date was around 118 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 48 degrees Celsius.

Evan Tanner showcased great presence of mind by informing his friends about his situation via his phone. Tanner asked them to get in touch with the authorities if he didn’t contact them by the next morning.

Unfortunately, Evan Tanner was unable to contact his friends the next day. Taking this as a sign that their friend was in trouble, they contacted the authorities and a search and rescue operation was launched.

Tanner’s body was discovered near Clapp Spring by a Marine helicopter on September 8. The water bottles he had were empty. Apparently, Tanner planned to refill his water bottles at Clapp Spring before heading back to his camp. But he was unbeknownst to the fact that it was generally dry.

It was later revealed that Evan Tanner’s bike was at his camp and that the bike had adequate supplies of water. Tanner’s death sent shockwaves across the MMA community. Notable MMA organizations, including the UFC, honored Tanner during broadcasts in the immediate aftermath of his passing. Tanner’s life and his death have inspired multiple documentaries as well.

Edited by Harvey Leonard
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