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Report: Former UFC & PRIDE fighter Phil Baroni arrested for alleged murder of woman

Baroni has been accused of killing his girlfriend at the Jardin San Pancho Hotel in Bahia de Banderas, Mexico.

Phil Baroni enters the cage for a bout with ONE FC in 2011.
Phil Baroni enters the cage for a bout with ONE FC in 2011.
Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

The Tribuna de la Bahia reports that a man matching the description of former UFC & PRIDE talent Phil Baroni has been arrested on suspicion of murder in the town of San Francisco, Nayarit, in the Bahia de Banderas region of Mexico. Posts to his social media accounts appear to confirm that Baroni had been living in the area recently. The suspect was arrested at the Jardin San Pancho Hotel where he had been living with his girlfriend.

According to Tribuna de la Bahia, the killing stemmed from an argument after the woman admitted to her partner that she had had an affair. The suspect is said to have told officers that he demanded she take a shower. When she refused, he apparently threw her into the shower stall, where she struck her head both on the wall and again on the floor. Police are reported to have observed numerous injuries to the face, arms, torso, and legs of the victim as well.

The suspect, a 46-year-old American, apparently claimed that the woman was still lucid after the altercation, when he helped her to bed, stripped off her clothes, and put a sheet over her to keep her warm. He then reportedly told police that he went out to get cigarettes and beer, at the woman’s prompting, but found her unresponsive when he returned. He then reportedly contacted local authorities and surrendered himself to officers at the scene.

The victim has yet to be officially identified. No word yet on whether or not official charges against the suspect have been made.

While numerous outlets have reported Phil Baroni as the suspect in question, the original report from Tribuna de la Bahia only identified the man as a 46-year-old New York native named “Phillips.” Photographs from the scene bear a strong resemblance to Baroni, including an identifiable tattoo on the suspects left ring finger.

An update from the outlet has subsequently identified “Phill Baroni” as the suspect in question. However, that story only cites “national and international sports media” as the source of the identification. Bloody Elbow has reached out to local authorities, but did not hear back by the time of publication.

UPDATE: According to the Associated Press, state officials from Nayarit, Mexico have since confirmed and identified the suspect as former MMA fighter Phil Baroni. An initial hearing in the case is reportedly set for Monday.

A former Hammer House disciple, Baroni started his combat sports career with toughman boxing contests while still a wrestler at Central Michigan University. He made his UFC debut in 2001, in just his second pro MMA bout, defeating Curtis Stout via unanimous decision. He competed seven more times in the Octagon, before leaving the UFC on a string of losses in 2005. After a run in PRIDE, Strikeforce and several smaller regional promotions, he returned to the UFC in 2009 for bouts with Amir Sadollah and Brad Tavares. He last competed in 2019 at Rebel FC 9 in Shanghai, China, losing via first round submission.