MMA Fighters Who Have Fought Cancer

by Danielle DeVor

Since this is a topic that is close to home for me, and I had my one-year post-chemoversary the day after Thanksgiving, I thought I’d talk about how there have been MMA fighters who have been diagnosed, completed treatment, and still gone on in their professional MMA careers.

So, in order to give a well-rounded idea of what an important feat this is, I’m going to veer into the territory of what happens when you finish cancer treatment. The easiest way I can do that is to talk about the three things I am still dealing with a year since completing treatment.


◼️ 1. Most people have no idea that chemotherapy and radiation can cause damage to your heart. This can be as minor as developing high blood pressure to full-blown congestive heart failure. They have no idea who will be affected worse beyond the knowledge that some chemo drugs are known to be harder on the heart and if you have radiation to your chest, that puts your heart and lungs at risk. (Mine is on the lesser seriousness scale)

◼️ 2. Chemo Brain. It’s like the most intense case of ADHD you’ve ever seen enveloped behind a layer of thick fog. No two days are alike. Some days, you can translate Latin from a movie for a friend. Other days, you can’t remember the word for “guardrail”. You can talk, but can’t write. Or you just can’t pull out words at all. Not much is known about chemo brain considering they just recently started studying the effects of chemotherapy and radiation on the brain. Best estimates are that it will resolve itself within five years. If it doesn’t the effects are permanent. (Me being a writer for a living– yeah. I can somedays make youtube videos, but it’s been weeks since I’ve put words on a page. Each use different parts of the brain.)

◼️ 3. Fatigue. This isn’t ordinary tired. This is a very strange tired. You can walk across a room and be exhausted one day or run a marathon the next. You can be running full-tilt all day and have plenty of energy, then you face plant on your pillow in the afternoon.

These things are the top three I deal with on a daily basis and there are numerous others, but since this is an article about MMA Fighters, I’ll move on.


🌍 Currently Active:

• Tatiana Suarez– fought thyroid cancer and had to undergo surgery and radiation.


• Mac Danzig– Oral Cancer Survivor.


• Aaron Aby– fought testicular cancer and had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy.


▪️Lost but Not Forgotten:

• William “The Armadillo” Joplin– lost his battle with pancreatic cancer this past October– and fought in the cage while undergoing chemo therapy.


• Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto– lost his battle with cancer in 2018


If you know of any other fighters still active, retired, or that have lost their battle with cancer, please mention them below.

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