MMA Veteran Brian Gassaway Dies At Age 49
WEC and UFC veteran Brian Gassaway has died at the age of 49.
The news was first reported by one of Gassaway’s close friends who wrote on Facebook that “Mandingo” has breathed his last. Later, the news was confirmed by several renowned MMA media outlets.
A memorial fund page has been created for Gassaway’s family on GoFundMe.
“It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear friend, teacher, and mentor, Brian Gassaway. Please know that as much as he helped you, you also helped him,” the page reads.
“You were the reason he lived. You gave him breath. He absorbed and learned from your experience, sharing it with the next student. As students and teachers of martial arts, we are the sum of the teachers and students before us.
The cause of his death is unclear.
Gassaway is considered one of the pioneers of this sport in southern states of the U.S.
He made his professional MMA debut in a one-night tournament in Mississippi called “Mayhem In Mississippi.”
Mandingo won his first two fights via rear-naked choke but ultimately suffered the first loss of his career later that night in the hands of Anthony Macias.
After his incredible performance in a one-night tournament, Mandingo certainly made a name for himself and was later provided the opportunity to compete abroad in Japan and Brazil.
After a rather timid display in Pancrase, a Japanese MMA promotion company, Gassaway returned home and competed in regional promotions.
He remained undefeated during the period of 1998 to the early 2000s. He notched up some notable wins over the likes of Travis Fulton and future UFC star Joe Slick.
This run of good form landed him another opportunity to compete at Pancrase. And this time around, he was able to perform better than his last venture.
After traveling around the globe, Gassaway was finally able to compete in the UFC.
He made his octagon debut against Diego Sanchez, but the fight didn’t end the way Gassaway would have wanted as he suffered a stoppage loss against Sanchez.
Following this defeat, Gassaway went on to compete in numerous organizations around the U.S., ultimately finding his way to the WEC.
His career’s last fight came against Pride Fighting Championships veteran Shungo Oyama. After getting submitted by the Japanese, Mandingo decided to hang his gloves.
He later served as a trainer and coach in his home city of Chicago, training names like Shonie Carter.
“Brian leaves behind his wife and best friend, Mimi, mother, and brother, Wesley. Brian, our friend, our teacher, you will not be forgotten,” the GoFundMe continued.
“Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. Because of you, we are stronger; we are braver; we are better people. I hope you knew how much you meant to us. We love you, champ.”