• Taylor Faircloth

UFC'S Josh Samman Fought His Biggest Opponent, Himself

Josh Samman, a 28-year-old middleweight with a 12-4 record, played chess and guitar. He climbed mountains and ran a marathon. He also spent time in rehab and jail, while he dropped out of school and moved out on his own at age 16. Samman wrote a memoir too, although the book did not include the final chapter.

"That guy had a lot of potential, man,’’ Daniel Valverde, one of Samman’s trainers, sadly stated. “Josh was a natural fighter. He was born to fight.’’

On Sept. 29, a day before Samman was set to begin training for his next Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fight, he was found unresponsive and his roommate was found dead in Samman’s bedroom at their house in nearby Hollywood. Samman spent six days in a coma before he was declared dead on October 5, 2016.

Samman was battling ferocious depression. On August 30, 2013, Hailey Bevis, Samman’s former girlfriend, was driving home while texting Samman; she hydroplaned off a highway and crashed into a tree, which led to her death.

Journaling about the dark thoughts and his feelings helped pull him out of depression, according to Samman’s book, and at a friend’s suggestion he decided to write the book in honor of Bevis. Before he even started, he began to envision a final chapter — getting back into the octagon in 2014 and winning the fight for Bevis. During the year leading up to the fight, Samman also had lost his stepfather, grandmother, and beloved dog, Juice. The fight took place on Dec. 6, Bevis' birthday. In the second round, Samman unleashed a head kick that knocked out Eric Gordon and left Samman sobbing in the octagon.

"He died of a probable drug overdose", according to Broward County medical examiner Craig Mallak, who told USA TODAY Sports "that he suspects Samman used heroin. A drug screen performed by the hospital where Samman was taken showed cocaine, marijuana and Xanax in Samman, but the hospital disposed of the blood sample before the medical examiner could perform the more sophisticated toxicology report," Mallak said.

In regards to Samman's death, the USA Today article commented that "In a sport where the bombastic Conor McGregor reigns king and the charismatic Ronda Rousey remains the biggest crossover star, a lesser-known mixed martial arts fighter was the most intriguing of all."

source: usatoday.com

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