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MMA veteran Justin Thornton dies after KO loss at BKFC 20

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A bare knuckle fighter has died after sustaining a serious KO in a fight.

Justin Thornton weighing in at BKFC 20.
Justin Thornton weighing in at BKFC 20.
BKFC / YouTube

Justin Thornton, an MMA veteran and recent bare knuckle competitor, has died after being knocked out at BKFC 20 (per Erik Kowal of MMANews). He was 39-years-old.

BKFC President David Feldman released a short statement on Thornton’s passing (per MMA Fighting). “This morning we were very saddened to be notified of the passing of one of our fighters, Justin Thornton, who competed at BKFC 20 on August 20, 2021,” Feldman said.

“We join the rest of the combat sports community in sending our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Thornton made his BKFC debut on August 20. He lost that fight, to Dillon Cleckler, by KO after just 19 seconds. After being knocked unconscious Thornton fell forwards and his head crashed against the canvas.

MMA Fighting reports that Thornton was partially paralyzed after the KO. And that, after he was removed from the arena on a stretcher, he was taken to a hospital. He remained in hospital for several weeks with a spinal cord injury and subsequent infection.

Thornton had been competing in MMA since 2008. Last year he fought Titan FC COO Lex McMahon, losing by first round submission.

News of Thornton’s passing comes shortly after the death of Lucas Gabriel Peres, an MMA fighter, who died of head injuries after a bout in Brazil. He was 22-years-old. Shortly before Peres’ death, 18-year-old boxer Jeanette Zacarias Zapata died, also of head injuries, after being TKO’d in a fight in Montreal, Canada.