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Dillon Cleckler opens up on opponent Justin Thornton’s death

" ... I still don’t know why we do it ..."

Dillon Cleckler responded today with an emotional post about the death of opponent Justin Thornton, who passed away on Monday.

In the post, Cleckler identified Thornton’s cause of death as pneumonia. The two fought at BKFC 20 in August, where Thornton collapsed face first to the canvas after getting knocked out by Cleckler. He was rushed to hospital, and placed on a ventilator, where he remained until his passing.

“As a fighter nothing prepares you for the news I received this morning on my way to training,” Cleckler posted. “Some of you may not of heard yet but my last opponent Justin Thornton passed away last night due to pneumonia,” Cleckler wrote. “I can’t help but feel absolutely devastated about this because I’ve known Justin for years. Not many people know this but we fought 8 years ago and he told me right away he wanted the rematch. I know that when he got the phone call to finally get that rematch on a bigger stage he saw a huge opportunity and took it. Justin is a warrior. It’s in his blood to fight. He loved it. He fought anyone, anytime and anywhere and when I didn’t have an opponent, he still jumped at the opportunity to get in there with me again.


… Any man or woman who steps into the cage is special, they take a risk that 99.99% of the world would never take … – Dillon Cleckler

A person who posted as Thornton’s older sister Belinda Brashier, thanked Cleckler for responding.

The death of Thornton follows the recent passings of Mexican female boxer Jeanette Zacarias Zapata and 15-year-old Kickboxer Jorja Halliday from the U.K.


Kenai is a former Postmedia Network online news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.

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