It's hard to believe it has already been four years since former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner passed away. Newer fans might not be aware of how much Tanner meant to the sport and his fans. He was always very different from other fighters and struggled with his demons, but inspired fierce loyalty in those that followed his career due to his unique nature. He wasn't a guy that will ever be considered for a greatest fighters of all time list, but he sure as hell would top a few lists for most inspirational fighter of all time.
I'm not going to run through his many accomplishments, because you can look those up for yourself if you'd like. I'm not even going to go over the circumstances of his death, which you can check out here if you feel the need. I'm just paying tribute to a man that did a lot for the sport of mixed martial arts. And should be in the UFC Hall of Fame.
One of the best memorials I read about Tanner came from our own Kid Nate, who was a big Tanner fan. You can read that here. There are scores of other articles about Evan's death, and two of the best can be read here and here.
If you haven't taken the time to see Once I Was A Champion yet, today would be a good day to do so (Edit - I forgot that it hasn't actually been released. My bad). It's a documentary that discusses the life and times of Tanner, and tries to piece together what his final hours were like. It is certainly not an easy thing to watch - the interviews are heartwrenching at times - but the doc doesn't pull any punches and gives you a look at the real Evan Tanner, flaws and all.
Thanks for the memories, Mr. Tanner. Rest in peace.