Former UFC fighter Brian Gassaway has died at 49.
A veteran of 52 professional fights, Gassaway competed around the world for various notable promotions also including WEC, Bellator, King of the Cage, Shooto and Pancrase.
According to a GoFundMe launched for funeral expenses, as well as numerous posts from friends and family on his personal Facebook page, Gassaway touched the lives of many – particularly in the Chicago-area mixed martial arts circle. No cause of death has been revealed.
Gassaway competed once in the UFC in August 2008 against Diego Sanchez on the UFC 54 main card. He lost the fight by second-round TKO. The lone appearance in the UFC happened in between two WEC fights – a no contest against Ross Ebanez and a loss to John Alessio.
In August 2010, Gassaway fought and won a unanimous decision against Kevin Knabjian in front of a home crowd in Chicago. One fight later, Gassaway retired from pro MMA competition and focused solely on coaching. In 2018, Gassaway was inducted into the Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
“Whether you were training for a fight on the big stage, competing in a smoker in a church basement, or training just to better yourself, Brian showed you the same love, effort, and attention,” the GoFundMe describes. “You always felt safe knowing that he was in the corner. His calmness gave you confidence as he wrapped your hands in preparation to go into battle.
“His words gave you the knowledge from the experience of the countless wars he fought as you marched to the ring. And his energy gave you strength and courage as the bell rang and you walked into the fire. One thing was certain: You always knew that Brian was fighting right there alongside you. And after the fights were fought, after the fans left the stadium, after the lights went dark, Brain was still there, sitting quietly alongside you.”
“Mandingo” leaves behind a wife and one son.