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UFC pioneer Paul Varelans passes away after battle with COVID-19

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The “Polar Bear” has passed away.

Paul Varelans

Paul Varelans, a UFC pioneer nicknamed “the Polar Bear,” has passed away.

It was after a month long battle with COVID-19, with the former UFC heavyweight discussing his symptoms and revealing that he has tested positive last December. Varelans was eventually put in a medically induced coma and hooked up to a ventilator.

According to MMA author Jonathan Snowden, Varelans was still “breathing 70% on his own” a couple of weeks ago, but “eventually it overwhelmed him.”

On Saturday, the UFC fan favorite passed away at age 51.

Very sad right now we lost a great man Paul Varelans rest in love . We will all miss you a inspiration to me a inspiration to many . You are in a better place now you are loved by so many ❤️ ❤️

Posted by Mark Coleman on Saturday, January 16, 2021

The massive 6-foot-8 heavyweight is known for having eight fights in the UFC from 1995 to 1996. Most notable was his involvement in the one-night, eight-man tournament at UFC 7. He notched a couple of brutal wins, before losing in its iconic final.

Varelans had a brief, but memorable three-year MMA career. The towering heavyweight went 4-4 in the UFC and 9-9 overall, while taking on legends from MMA’s early days in Marco Ruas, Mark Kerr, Igor Vovchanchyn, Kimo Leopoldo, and Tank Abbott.