Rest In Power, Josh Samman

gabesammanYesterday was a very sad day in the world of mixed martial arts, as we have lost a good one. An excellent fighter, talented writer and phenomenal person, UFC middleweight Josh “Anqa” Samman passed away yesterday morning, after being hospitalized in a coma for six days. He was 28. Last Thursday, Samman was found unresponsive in his Hollywood, FL apartment by a friend. Samman’s room-mate, Combat Night ring announcer Troy Kirkingburg was with him and pronounced dead at the scene. Samman’s cause of death is unknown and no drugs were found in the apartment, though that has been rumored to be the cause. He had talked about his struggles with drug abuse in his memoir, The Housekeeper: Love, Death and Prize Fighting, which was published this April and is available for order with free shipping on Samman’s passing comes just nine days after he signed on the dotted line to square off against Oluwale Bamgbose at UFC Fight Night 102 in Albany, NY. It was a fight he had been campaigning for on social media and was happy to get. The mixed martial arts community has taken a big hit with this loss. Not only will fight fans miss seeing “Anqa” in action inside the Octagon, but his writing at will be sorely missed, as well. A talented man, it was widely believed that Samman had a bright future outside of the cage. Aside from fighting and writing, Samman also owned the aforementioned Florida-based MMA promotion Combat Night. A successful promotion, they featured the best up and coming amateur prospects in Florida’s mixed martial arts scene. The Florida native broke onto the scene on season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter. He made it to the semi-finals of the tournament, where he was eliminated by Kelvin Gastelum. The pair went on to have a friendship outside of the cage and both found success in the UFC, with Gastelum going on to win the TUF 17 finals and eventually becoming a top five welterweight. Samman made his UFC debut against castmate Kevin Casey at the TUF 17 Finale in Las Vegas and won the bout via second round TKO. In his next outing inside the Octagon, he faced TUF 18 finalist Eddie Gordon at UFC 181 and defeated him via highlight-reel head-kick knockout in come-from-behind fashion at the end of the second round, after spending the majority the fight on his back. The knockout made #1 on my Top 10 Knockouts of 2014. It was right before Samman’s next fight against Caio Magalhaes at the TUF 21 Finale in Las Vegas that I personally got to know him. I reached out to him for an interview, as I was going to be in Vegas for the fights. We had a little chat. I mentioned to him that I thought he was going to submit Magalhaes with a rear naked choke in the first round. I told him the prop on him to win by submission pays 12-to-1 and I want to bet it. He laughed and told me, “don’t waste your money on a sub bet, my man! KO’s and TKO’s only here.” He was gunning for a $50,000 ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus and felt submissions don’t get it that often. Josh talked me out of playing the Samman by Submission (+1200) prop and instead I took Samman by T/KO (+220), Samman Inside the Distance (+193), Samman in Round One (+425), and Samman in Round Two (+600). Sure enough, Samman went out there and submitted Magalhaes with a rear naked choke in the first round. Not only that, but he in fact took home $50,000 for ‘Performance of the Night’ honors! “I should have stuck with my gut,” I thought. Not long after his fight, I saw him walk out from backstage into the arena. He was wearing a classy suit and greeting fans. I called him over, shook his hand and asked him for a picture. As my friend was snapping a picture of us, I said to Josh, “I told you you were gonna submit him,” and he started cracking up. “That was you?!” said Samman, with a big laugh. He was radiant with happiness in this moment. Josh apologized for talking me out of the submission bet and asked if I still made money. I told him that I did well on the Round One prop. He asked how much I won, and I said, “a lot!” He was thrilled that he was able to make me some money. I still remember the excitement I felt and shared with him in that moment. That will never leave me. Josh and I kept in touch, but sadly, I never got to see him again. It was that one special, laugh-filled moment that I got to share with him, and will absolutely never forget. I am at least thankful that it was captured in a photograph. Josh’s girlfriend Hailey Bevis died in a car crash on August 30, 2013. They were texting each other during a storm at the time of the accident. He felt guilty, and the guilt never left him. More than a year later, on December 6th, the night Samman defeated Eddie Gordon with a highlight-reel knockout, it was on Hailey’s birthday and he dedicated his victory to her. His post-fight speech for that victory is tough to watch now, as he asks for a 50k bonus, ending with, “I want to change my life. I think I just did.” It’s very heartbreaking that Josh is no longer with us, but if you’re a spiritual person, you have some comfort in knowing that he’s back with Hailey. My thoughts and prayers, along with the rest of us here at MMA OddsBreaker, go out to Josh’s family and friends during this very difficult time. He was an incredible person who effected the lives of many. Rest In Power, Josh Samman. You were one of the good ones, bud. “This is our one shot to make our mark amongst a sea of billions trying to do the same. In the end, what will it be that lines your tables of keepsakes? What pictures will your loved ones choose to define your journey? Choose and act wisely, because once it’s over, it really is all over.” -Josh Samman

Written by Gabe Killian

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