BKFC fighter Justin Thornton dies after suffering knockout loss at BKFC 20

One-time BKFC fighter Justin Thornton has died following a brutal knockout loss suffered at his lone fight for the promotion back in August.

He was 38 years old.

BKFC issued a statement to MMA Fighting following news that Thornton has passed away several weeks after his fight at BKFC 20 in Mississippi.

“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.

“We join the rest of the combat sports community in sending our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”

News of Thornton’s passing was first reported by MyMMANews.

According to posts made on Thornton’s personal Facebook page, he was hospitalized after he suffered a knockout in his fight against Dillon Cleckler at BKFC 20. The fight lasted just 19 seconds with Thornton falling face first to the canvas after he was knocked out during a rapid-fire exchange in the middle of the ring.

Reports state that Thornton was partially paralyzed after the fight and he remained hospitalized for several weeks after the event took place while also fighting off an infection from a spinal cord injury.

Prior to his fight in BKFC, Thornton was a mainstay on the mixed martial arts fight scene including his highly-publicized bout against Titan FC COO Lex McMahon this past November.

Throughout his career, Thornton (6-18) competed in several regional promotions with fights against a number of recognizable names including UFC heavyweights Chase Sherman and Walt Harris as well as Contender Series veterans Michael Lombardo and Austen Lane.

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Those refs need to be catching guys like thai refs. His injury wasn’t from the blows, but spiking his head.




38 years old has no business going into brutal combat sports unless you’re an Anderson Silva.


6-18 fighter killed in bare knuckle boxing match.

This isn’t going to be overlooked by the media. Change is coming.


Not really. There’s lots of scenarios where people fall and hit their head and have spinal injuries. It happens to a bunch of kids every year playing football. It’s probably more likely to happen to your kid in soccer or gymnastics, without being ko’d, than a pro fighter. I mean, fuck, a person could stand up too fast and do that to themselves lol.

Had this been some drawn out war that should have been stopped multiple times over and he collapsed with a brain bleed at the end, the optics would be very bad.

This is more a shit happens, freak incident. Could have happened in tae kwon do or any striking sport. The fact it was bare knuckle had nothing to do with his injury or death. Also, a 6-18 record isn’t uncommon in regional boxing or mma shows. Those guys get licensed all fo the time.


This happened to a very close friend of mine Leroy Johnson on pcfl . Luckily leroy survived and was able to learn how to walk again . This is very sad to see . Rip


RIP bare knuckle fighting.

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Did you watch the video?

Fucking shame man. RIP JT

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Kinda don’t want to. But I probably will.

RIP to the guy but I think the head spike did the damage just like this wrestler who got paralyzed. They both went down the same way imo. The BKFC fight reminded me of this wrestler


He died from complications from a spinal cord infection because he fell forward stooped over ko’d onto the crown/top of his head. It wasn’t from like an accumulation of blows or a nasty nasty ko. Just got dropped and fell weird.

I don’t think it’ll be that big an issue. Shit happens. Ref probably could have caught him. Should have. Tough to say in the moment.



Sucks watched it live and thought it looked bad. RIP


I understand. But the stupid hippies will still try to ban BK fighting.

…I hate hippies.

Holy shit!

I remember reading a comment not long after the fight that said he was seriously injured. I’ll find the comment and edit it in here.


This is very sad news

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Has BKFC made any statements? Do you think this will affect change going forward them? I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing them wear 4 ounce gloves, stand up only. But would that even make a difference? The fall looked like the worst part

Dude you’d have to punch somebody so fucking hard to sever their spine.

Definitely not a good look for a promotion that’s only been around what 3 years now?


It was a freak accident. He spiked his head into the mat when he fell. If he would have fallen any other way, 99% chance he would have woken up and been fine.

The least BKFC can do is cover all hospital expenses, funeral cost, and give the wife some money and open a college fund for the kids IMO.

That guy who is president of BKFC is supposedly mega rich