This date in MMA history three years ago - 6/21/2008 - UFC held its TUF 7 Finale.
Tanner is one of the most beloved, colorful, and enigmatic fighters in UFC history. He had made his UFC debut more than 9 years prior, at UFC 18. He fought a total of 17 times in the UFC, including stopping David Terrell at UFC 51 to win the middleweight title. Evan lost the title in his first defense against Rich Franklin, and following a stoppage loss to David Loiseau and a first-round submission of Justin Levens (now also sadly deceased), Tanner took an extended hiatus from competitive MMA for nearly two years.
After a "lost period" of alcohol abuse and aimlessness, Tanner announced a new 4-fight deal with the UFC on November 8, 2007. His return came at UFC 82 against current #1 contender Yushin Okami; he was KO'd in the second round.
His final fight, as it would turn out, was at the UFC TUF 7 Finale. He lost to Ultimate Fighter winner (and recently released from his contract) Kendall Grove in a split, albeit one-sided, decision.
Evans died of thirst (officially, heat exposure) in the California desert, circa September 8th 2008, after journeying out alone on a soul-searching expedition. In death - especially the circumstances of his death - he lives on in MMA fans' memories as he was in life - unique, not bound to convention, enigmatic. Through projects such as Once I Was a Champion and the ripple-like effects of inspiration that he caused in people who met him and those whom he never met, Tanner's place in MMA and in the hearts of its fans is surely and securely set. There wasn't another like him in this sport, nor will there be again.
Evan Tanner (February 11, 1971 - September 8, 2008) fought his last MMA fight three years ago today. RIP Evan.