By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Very sad news in the world of MMA on Wednesday, as former Olympic Gold medalist, UFC commentator, and prominent MMA judge Jeff Blatnick passed away due to complications from heart surgery at the age of 55. WYNT in Albany, New York was the first to report news of his passing.
Blatnick won the Gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling back in 1984, just two years after being diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. Blatnick bested cancer before competing in the Olympics, and took home the Gold.
From the mid 1990s to the early 2000s, Blatnick served as a commentator for the UFC under the previous owners, Semaphore Entertainment Group. He had that role from UFC 4 up until UFC 32. He was instrumental in bringing about the Mixed Martial Arts Council Manual, a rule set for the sport of MMA that would be followed by the now official Unified Rules of Mixed Martial arts. Following that, Blatnick served as an MMA judge and referee, and was one of the most well-respected judges working in the sport.
The UFC released a statement on Wednesday following news of his death, which you can read below:
"The UFC sends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of former commentator and judge Jeff Blatnick, who passed away Wednesday after complications following heart surgery. He was 55.
A 1984 Olympic Gold medal winner in Greco-Roman wrestling AFTER battling cancer, Blatnick was a pioneering force in mixed martial arts who introduced countless people to the sport as a UFC commentator from UFC 4 through 32. Blatnick also worked closely with athletic commissions regarding the sport he loved, and he would later serve as an MMA judge, even working several UFC events. His presence around the Octagon and in the sport will be sorely missed.
Blatnick is survived by a wife and two children.
Penick's Analysis: This is very sad news indeed. Blatnick played a very big and very real part in bringing the sport to where it is today. He was one of the most consistent and knowledgeable judges in the sport, and his unexpected passing has saddened the MMA community immensely today. We here at MMATorch also express our sincere condolences to his family today, and wish them the very best in the wake of this news.