Tim Hague: Former UFC Fighter's Tragic Death Raises Questions for Combat Sports

Among the reactions to UFC fighter Tim Hague’s death, perhaps the most sobering came from Anthony Johnson.

Hague died at age 34 on Sunday, having reportedly fallen into a coma following a boxing match in Edmonton, Canada, on Friday.

Hague, who fought five times in the UFC, was knocked down five times in the first two rounds by opponent Adam Braidwood, the BBC reported.

The Canadian, who had also been an elementary school teacher, fought 34 times in Mixed Martial Arts and lost eight of those contests by knockout. He then began a boxing career in which he was knocked out in two of his four fights.

On Saturday, former UFC light heavyweight champion Johnson posted on Instagram, saying Hague’s death was a “reality check” for him.

“This is why I walked away. This is a reality check for me!” Johnson wrote. “I've knocked a lot of ppl out and idk how this didn't happen when I fought. I've been afraid of this happening to me and after learning about CTE I'm afraid of it happening to anybody.”

Johnson, 33, left the fight game on his own terms in April, following a submission defeat to Daniel Cormier at UFC 210.

Hague wasn’t so lucky.

Known as “The Thrashing Machine,” Hague was an imposing six foot four and 264 pounds, according to Sherdog.com.

That website also shows Hague suffered, often, for his art. After opening his MMA career with ten wins from 11 contests, he lost 12 of his next 23 fights. Eight of those defeats came by technical knockout or by knockout.

Hague boxed professionally for the first time on December 9, 2011, according to BoxRec, winning by knockout.

He fought three more times as a boxer, losing his last two bouts by technical knockout.

YouTube footage of Hague's fateful fight shows him knocked down four times before Braidwood knocks him out, his head appearing to smash into the ring surface as he falls.

His tragic death was confirmed in a statement issued by his family.

"It is with incredible sadness, sorrow and heartbreak to report that Tim has passed away," the statement released Sunday said.

"He was surrounded by family, listening to his favourite songs," they added. "We will miss him so greatly. We ask for privacy during this difficult time."

Hague’s passing seems likely to lead to uncomfortable questions. Why was a man with a lengthy history of knockouts still allowed to fight? Should boxing’s stoppage rules come under review? Had Hague been fighting in MMA, the contest would likely have been over following the first knockdown. And why was a fight that Hague was clearly losing, badly, not halted when it became clear he could no longer defend himself?

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