"Those are definitely sad tissues today" - Tributes pour in from fans as UFC 1 fighter Taylor Wily a.k.a Teila Tuli passes away at 56

Teila Tuli (center) passed away from unknown causes on June 20. [Image courtesy: Getty Images]
Teila Tuli (center) passed away from unknown causes on June 20. [Image courtesy: Getty Images]

Six months after the UFC released a reunion of the athletes from its iconic first event on YouTube, the group has suffered another unfortunate loss. Teila Tuli, a former sumo wrestler who was a part of the first-ever fight in the Octagon, passed away on June 20 in Utah.

A local Hawaii news channel broke the news on a live broadcast with the host of 'Island Life Live' being a friend of Tuli. As a native of the islands, Tuli became widely recognized as the actor Taylor Wily for portraying the character 'Kamekona Tupuola' on Hawaii 5-0, MacGyver and Magnum P.I.

Tuli's cause of death was not publicly released in the announcement from KITV-4. He was 56 years old at the time of his passing.

MMA fans were heartbroken by the news with Tuli becoming a respected figure of the sport's history over time despite having just an 0-1 record in the cage. As many expressed their sorrow on Reddit, one user said the news gave them "sad tissues" by commenting:

"Ok, those are definitely sad tissues today"
Fan expressing sadness over Teila Tuli's reported death. [via @r/MMA on Reddit]
Fan expressing sadness over Teila Tuli's reported death. [via @r/MMA on Reddit]

Other fans commented:

"MMA wouldn't have become what it had if he hadn't shown up to the party, respect"
"I had no idea Teila Tuli = Kamekona = Taylor Wily"
"I'm so much sadder about this than I would have expected"

View more fan reactions to Teila Tuli's death below:

Fans reacting to Teila Tuli's untimely death. [via r/MMA on Reddit]
Fans reacting to Teila Tuli's untimely death. [via r/MMA on Reddit]

Teila Tuli's life after UFC 1

Many fans are familiar with the story of former UFC fighter Teila Tuli, who moved on from MMA after his lone fight at UFC 1 to pursue an acting career under the name Taylor Wily. However, less is known about his personal life when he was not portraying a fan-favorite character on television.

Wily did not own any public social media pages, making it hard for fans to stay up-to-date with his personal activities. At the time of his death, the actor did not have any active roles but played 'Kamekona' as a recurring character in Magnum P.I. up until January 2024.

Wily primarily accepted jobs in Hawaii-based movies and television shows and never appeared in any starring role. Before gracing the screen as 'Kamekona,' Wily received praise for his minor role in the movie 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall.'

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Edited by Tejas Rathi
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