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UFC and Pancrase veteran Brian Gassaway dies at 49

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Pioneering MMA fighter Brian Gassaway passed away over the weekend.

Brian Gassaway while competing for Pancrase.
Brian Gassaway while competing for Pancrase.
Apollo Suede/YouTube

Brian Gassaway, a 50-fight MMA veteran, passed away this weekend at the age of 49. A GoFundMe campaign was set up to help fund a memorial for Gassaway. At this time of writing that campaign had raised over $12,000.

The campaign page states that Gassaway “lived his life with purpose and goodness, dedicating every waking moment to being a better person, husband, friend, fighter and coach.”

“Very few people have the courage to follow their dreams. Brian was one of them. He tested himself all over the world against some of the best fighters on the planet having competed in the UFC, Bellator, WEC, King of the Cage, Iron Heart Crown, Shooto and Pancrase. Brian had his hand raised 29 times but walked out of the ring a better man after every single contest. In 2018, Brian was inducted into the Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame. And, announced just yesterday, in honor of Brian’s contribution to the art of Muay Thai in America, the Thai Boxing Association-Sanctioning Authority has created the Brian Gassaway Award.”

Gassaway started his pro MMA career in 1996 at IFC 2 in Mississippi. During that one-night tournament Gassaway scored two rear naked choke wins before losing by kneebar in the championship fight.

In 1997 Gassaway took his talents to Japan where he featured for Pancrase. In 1998 he started a 14-fight undefeated streak which included wins over Travis Fulton, Dennis Reed and Henry Matamoros.

In 2000 he returned to Pancrase and in 2003 he appeared in Shooto. Two years later he debuted for WEC, fighting to a no contest with Ross Ebanez at WEC 14. Later that same year Gassaway booked his first and only fight in the UFC.

At UFC 54: Boiling Point he came up short against a 12-0 Diego Sanchez. In 2007 Gassaway returned to WEC, facing John Alessio, before heading back to the regional circuit. In 2010 Gassaway beat Kevin Knabjian at Bellator 25. He last ever fight came a few months later, a loss to Shungo Oyama in Martial Combat in Singapore.

Gassaway ended his pro MMA career with a record of 29-19-2. In recent years he had been coaching martial arts in Chicago, IL.