Justin Thornton dies a month after BKFC 20 KO loss

justin thornton
Credit: BKFC/Phil Lambert

Veteran mixed martial arts and Bare Knuckle Fight Championships fighter Justin Thornton died Monday at age 38.

He sustained serious injuries in his BKFC 20 knockout loss to Dillon Cleckler this past August. The promotion confirmed his passing Monday night.

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship newcomer Justin Thornton dies a month after KO loss

“We join the rest of the combat sports community in sending our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” BKFC president David Feldman said in a statement to MMAFighting.

Thornton was knocked out by Cleckler in 19 seconds in the pair’s heavyweight matchup. In a separate statement Tuesday on his Instagram account, Thornton’s final opponent claimed the 24-fight veteran died of pneumonia. Although no official cause has been released yet.

“Justin was a fighter his entire life and deserves nothing but respect!!! My thoughts and prayers are with Justin Thornton and his family at this time. RIP warrior,” Cleckler wrote.

Thornton finished with a 6-18 record in MMA. Fighting for promotions like Island Fights and Cage Warrior Championship. His bout in August was his debut in the sport of bare-knuckle boxing.

Amber Willard, who said she was Thornton’s on-and-off girlfriend, wrote on Facebook on Sept. 23 that Thornton was paralyzed, on a ventilator, and had a lung infection, but was alert.

–Field Level Media

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