UFC officials confirmed that heavyweight Shane del Rosario died Monday.
Jim Kemper/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
A promising combat sports career has been cut short far too early.
UFC officials confirmed that heavyweight Shane del Rosario died Monday after suffering cardiac arrest two weeks ago. He was just 30 years old.
Del Rosario was rushed to the hospital Nov. 26 "in full cardiac arrest," his manager Jason House wrote on Twitter. He was in critical condition at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, Calif., until Monday when he passed away.
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"RIP to one of the best people I’ve ever had the honor to have in my life and call my best friend," his training partner and roommate Ian McCall wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Del Rosario’s training partner, Erik Apple, told Sherdog that del Rosario was found after the heart attack at his home by McCall, also a UFC fighter. Apple said McCall called 911 and administered CPR before del Rosario was taken to the hospital. Apple said del Rosario had no previous heart issues.
McCall, a single father, wrote on Twitter that del Rosario, was helping him raise his daughter.
"He was one of those few special people that you couldn’t help but love," his training partner Carla Esparza, the Invicta FC women’s strawweight champion, wrote on Facebook. "He was a rising star in the mma world, and it is so unfair that his light had to fade before his time. Team Oyama will never be the same without you Shane."
The Hacienda Heights, Calif., native, an accomplished Muay Thai striker, was a top prospect coming over from Strikeforce to the UFC, but lost his first two fights with the organization. His final bout came last December against Pat Barry. Del Rosario finished his MMA career with an 11-2 record.
Del Rosario graduated from UC Irvine with a bachelor’s degree in psychology before embarking on a career in combat sports. He was a champion in kickboxing and started out his pro MMA career reeling off 11 straight wins - all by knockout in the first or second rounds. His finishing ability quickly made him one of the hottest prospects in the sport.
After a vicious TKO of Lloyd Marshbanks at an M-1 event in 2009, del Rosario signed with Strikeforce. In his first with the organization, he showed he wasn’t just a knockout artist, submitting Brandon Cash with an omaplata in first round.
The hot streak continued for del Rosario with a first-round knockout of Lolohea Mahe in July 2010 and an armbar submission of Lavar Johnson in February 2011. A win over Daniel Cormier in June of that year would have made him a top alternate for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, but an April 2011 car accident derailed the possibility.
Del Rosario’s car was struck by an alleged drunk driver and injuries sustained in the accident, including herniated discs, had him considering retirement and pursuing an advanced degree. Del Rosario eventually decided to keep fighting, but he wasn’t able to return to competition until 13 months later.
His comeback fight came in May 2012 for the UFC after Strikeforce was bought out by UFC parent company Zuffa. He lost by knockout to Stipe Miocic in the second round. Del Rosario befell the same fate - a second-round knockout - against Barry in December.
Despite the setbacks, del Rosario was still viewed as having a great deal of potential because of his technical striking, power and athleticism. Tragically, he’ll never be able to realize it.
Time goes by so fast, people go in and out of your life. Don't miss the opportunity to tell these people how much they mean to you.
"Time goes by so fast, people go in and out of your life," House wrote on Twitter while del Rosario was in the hospital. "Don’t miss the opportunity to tell these people how much they mean to you."