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BKFC – Heavyweight Justin Thornton Passes Away Following BKFC 20 Fight With Dillon Cleckler

38-year-old BKFC fighter, Justin Thornton has passed away following an August knockout defeat at BKFC 20 in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Justin Thornton
Mandatory Credit: BKFC

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship fighter, Justin Thornton has passed away after injuries sustained in his 18-second knockout loss to Dillon Cleckler at BKFC 20 in August in Biloxi, Mississippi. 

Reports this evening from My MMA News reporter, Erik Kowal confirmed the passing of Thornton following injuries suffered against the aforenoted, Cleckler, with BKFC president, David Feldman confirming the news in a prepared statement released to MMA Junkie.


This morning we were very saddened to be notified of the passing of one of our fighters, Justin Thornton, who competed at BKFC 20 on August 20, 2021,” Feldman’s statement read. “We join the rest of the combat sports community in sending our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.

Competing in a heavyweight matchup with Cleckler, the 38-year-old, Thornton suffered a knockout loss just 18-seconds into the opening round of their bout, before he was removed from the venue on a stretcher and transported to a medical facility in Biloxi where he remained and was placed on a ventilator. Following the devastating knockout loss, the referee confirmed to Cleckler that Thornton had suffered a bad knockout, claiming he was “hurt bad“. At the time of publication, the cause of Thornton’s death has yet to be confirmed. 

A thirteen-year professional veteran, Thronton is also a former professional mixed martial artist, where he established an 8-16 record. Ahead of his second professional matchup with Cleckler, whom he fought under the Island Fights banner back in 2013, Thornton had suffered five consecutive losses, including two first round knockout defeats.

Staff from MMA Power Hour offers their condolences to the family and friends of the late Justin Thornton.

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