24-Bout MMA Veteran Justin Thornton Dies Following BKFC Knockout Loss in August

By Tristen Critchfield Oct 4, 2021

Justin Thornton, a veteran of 24 professional mixed martial arts bouts, has reportedly died due to injuries sustained in a knockout loss under the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship banner this past August.

My MMA News was first to report Thornton’s death. Thornton fell face first to the canvas after absorbing a right hand from Dillon Cleckler at BKFC in Biloxi, Miss., on Aug. 20. Thornton was taken out of the ring on the stretcher. He remained hospitalized since the bout and was also on a ventilator, according to various reports. Thornton was 38 years old.

“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,” BKFC president Dave Feldman said in a statement released to MMAjunkie.com. “We join the rest of the combat sports community in sending our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Thornton compiled a 6-18 mark in MMA over the course of a professional career that began in 2008. He entered the BKFC bout vs. Cleckler on a five-bout MMA losing streak in which he was finished by each of his opponents inside of a round — two via knockout or technical knockout. Thornton previously faced Cleckler at Island Fights 20 in 2013, losing via TKO in 65 seconds. Cleckler owned an 11-1 MMA mark and was coming off a pair of knockout wins in BKFC.

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