MMA Community Remembers Evan Tanner

by Chris Gorst on 11th September 2008

There’s a part of his heart up in Heaven
And a part that will always be wild
And all he can leave them is love and a reason
To run for the rest of their lives
Lonesome Coyotes survive.

– Kris Kristofferson

Joe Rogan, UFC commentator:
Evan was a lot more than a “normal” person. He was a fascinating individual – a wandering spirit in search of adventure in the truest sense of the term.  I was a regular reader of Evan’s blog, and although I had always appreciated him as a fighter and a friendly person to talk to, it was in reading his writings that I came to better understand his spirit.

His blog was a porthole into the window of his soul, and reading his brave, uncensored thoughts gave me an invigorated sense of purpose to do the same.

Evan’s take on life was like that of a character in an adventure novel, and his thirst for experience was actually what led him into fighting in the first place.

I can remember the first time I watched him fight, when I read that he learned his techniques from a video tape and was self trained. I thought that it takes a really unusual person to enter into the toughest sport in the world that way. He took that unusual energy and channeled it to become the UFC middleweight champion of the world.

He was that, and more.

Evan Tanner has left the rest of us trapped in this life and has moved on to the next stage of existence where he will undoubtedly find adventure beyond his wildest imagination. In doing so he has left the world a little less interesting…

Matt Lindland and Team Quest:
We at Team Quest are saddened to hear the news of Evan Tanner. He was and always will be a part of the Team Quest Family. As much as we tried to make Evan feel a part of the pack, he was a lone wolf and tried hard not to fit the mold. He liked to do it his way. – God Bless

Monte Cox, fighter manager and president of Adrenaline MMA:
I’m really saddened by the news… Evan first fought for me in 1998 and was one of the guys I always enjoyed seeing at the shows, whether he was competing or not. He always had a big smile and a handshake waiting whenever we bumped into each other. The MMA community and everybody who was touched by him will miss him greatly.”

Randy Couture, UFC heavyweight champion:
We’re all going to sorely miss Evan Tanner. He was a tremendous talent in our sport, and in many ways, self-taught in all the skills that he possessed in mixed martial arts. In a lot of ways his passing is metaphorical for his life, because he was one of those people that isolated himself.

I wasn’t really familiar with where he had gone. He was in Oregon; he was gone. He was here; he was gone. Nobody could really keep up with him, he just kind of moved at his own pace and in his own time. He never really checked in with anybody, ‘hey, I’m moving here’ and let you know he was going, he just kind of disappeared. So I had no idea how to get a hold of him or where he was.

He was in Oregon with us for a couple years, through his championship run. He stayed at my house for a while when he first moved from Texas, and he lived in the back of the gym at Team Quest for quite a long time too before Donita moved up and they got there own place up there. Trained with him almost every day when he was getting ready for fights. Then he moved out of Team Quest in Oregon, and went his own way.

Tito Ortiz, former UFC light heavyweight champion:
All my blessing to his family for sure.  It’s a shock to me still.  I remember Evan being a really good guy, and a solid fighter, and it’s kind of heart shaking.  I was really taken back from it when it happened, when I heard about it online.  I can always be thankful that I had the chance to fight him and just to compete with the guy and be around the guy for competition.  He’s always been a solid guy.”

Kendall Grove, last fighter to face Evan:
I didn’t know Evan personally, but personally enough that I fought him.  I know that he was a really, really good guy and the sport has lost a good person and a pioneer to the sport.  We fought and shared that bond.  My heart is out to his family.  I’m praying for his family and him.  I’m going to miss the guy.

Jason Leigh, a personal friend of Evan’s:
Evan at times could be very stubborn.  If you asked him about something he’d answer with firsthand knowledge because if he didn’t experience something, he’d tell you he didn’t have an opinion on it.

He’d tell you things that you didn’t want to hear, but at the same time you knew that if it was coming from Evan, he wasn’t just blowing smoke and telling you something that you just wanted to hear.  Everything about him was genuine.

He didn’t care if people liked him or hated him.  He just wanted them to know that what he said is really what he thought.

He had a genuine love for mankind.  I think his ultimate goal was to use his UFC exposure to do his charity work for people that needed help.

He was a lot more than just a fighter.  He really cared.

(Illustration by Scott Blair of, commissioned for Driving Force Sports and Ninja Star.)


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  1. Matt D. 11th September 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Great collection of tributes. Evan was always one of my favorite fighters to cheer for, and he will be missed.


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