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California Briefing / IMPERIAL COUNTY

Ultimate Fighting star found dead

September 10, 2008|Dan Arritt

Evan Tanner, an Ultimate Fighting Championship star whose career in the brutal sport was undermined by alcohol abuse, was found dead in a remote desert area of Imperial County, the county coroner's office said Tuesday.

Authorities had been searching for the 37-year-old fighter after friends reported losing contact with him Friday. Tanner often went on camping trips to the desert seeking solitude.

Authorities started looking for Tanner after receiving a call from his friends that he was no longer text-messaging them, said Imperial County Sheriff's Lt. George Moreno.

Tanner's body was found several miles from his camp and motorcycle in an area near the Palo Verde Valley.

Authorities speculate that his motorcycle may have broken down and that he was attempting to walk to safety.

They said there was no sign of foul play.

Tanner rose to the top of the mixed martial arts competition, winning championships here and in Japan.

After a two-year layoff in which he suffered public bouts of alcohol addiction, he returned to the ring in March against Yushin Okami at UFC 82 but was knocked out by a kick to the head.

He made his final appearance in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in June, losing a split decision in the final of "The Ultimate Fighter 7" in Las Vegas.

It was his fourth loss in his last five fights and probably spelled the end of his career.

-- Dan Arritt

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