Jeff Blatnick by David Cannon / Getty Images
Jeff Blatnick, one time UFC commissioner, former Olympic gold medalist and motivational speaker has passed away at the age of 55.
Jeff Blatnick, best known for winning an Olympic gold medal in 1984 and a long time stint as a commentator in the early days of the UFC, has passed away following complications after having heart surgery.
Blatnick was a two time Olympian, although he only had one opportunity to take home a medal after Team USA boycotted the 1980 games. In 1984 he took home the gold, defeating Tomas Johansson in the gold medal match. Johansson would later be DQ'ed after testing positive for Methenolone. Making this accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that Jeff had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1982, resulting in the removal of his spleen, appendix and going on radiation treatment.
This was mentioned in a 2008 article after a Blatnick appearance as a motivational speaker:
After the cancer went into remission, Blatnick began competing again. But his ability had declined, and he lost to opponents he used to handle easily.
He told the Homer crowd how it motivated _him when he heard a spectator at his match say, "Isn’t it too bad what happened to him when he got cancer."
Blatnick defeated Tomas Johansson of Sweden in the 1984 Olympics to win the gold medal, and his teammates chose him to carry the American flag during the closing ceremony.
From 1994 to 2001 Blatnick served as a commentator for the Ultimate Fighting Championships. He also had the position of "commissioner" of the promotion starting in 1998 and worked to develop rules to assist in regulating the sport.
Blatnick has been one of the best judges in the mixed martial arts game at the time of his death and was a long time advocate for the sport and it's widespread legalization and regulation.
Jeff Blatnick was 55 years old.
UPDATE: Here's an interview Luke Thomas of MMA Fighting did earlier this year. It may be the last MMA-focused interview Blatnick gave.