Former Ultimate Fighting Championship contender Kimo Leopoldo appeared at the Orange County Sheriff’s office in Santa Ana, Calif., late Tuesday afternoon, ending rumors of his death that spread rapidly across the Internet.
“He’s standing here in front of me, talking to some members of the press,” said Jim Amormino, the spokesman for the county sheriff’s coroner’s office, in a phone interview. “He’s alive and well.”
Rumors of Leopoldo’s death first appeared on MMA.tv’s popular forum, “The Underground.” The post reported that Leopoldo died in Costa Rica “of complications from a heart attack.”
The report was quickly picked up by celebrity website TMZ.com, which “confirmed” the death. It later pulled the story without comment. The New York Daily News, Orange County Register, Las Vegas Sun and numerous MMA-specific websites also reported the story.
But an attorney who has represented Leopoldo, who made his mixed martial arts debut at UFC 3, told Yahoo! Sports the 41-year-old “surfaced” early Tuesday afternoon, hours after reports of his death spread like a wildfire across the Internet.
Attorney Victor E. Hobbs of El Toro, Calif., said in a brief telephone interview, “Kimo has surfaced and that’s all I know right now.” He referred all questions to Ron Kort of New Era Fighting, who is either Leopoldo’s manager or his promoter.
Leopoldo, of Irvine, Calif., was sentenced by a California judge on Monday to 10 days of community service and required to participate in a drug diversion program. He was arrested in February in Tustin, Calif., on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine.