Former UFC commentator Jeff Blatnick died yesterday of complications resulting from heart surgery at the age of 55.

Blatnick first stepped into the commentary booth for the UFC all the way back at UFC 4 in December of 1994 and continued in the position for almost six and a half years, with his final event being UFC 32 in July 2001.

At UFC 17 in 1998 Blatnick was announced as the commissioner of the UFC and as such had a role in helping to craft the modern rule set that the organization now employs.

After leaving the UFC Blatnick continued to be an important influence behind the scenes, penning the Mixed Martial Arts Council’s manual and chairing the body, while he was also a licensed referee.

In addition to his work in MMA, Blatnick was also famous for having won gold in Olympic Wrestling at the games in 1984.

What made the achievement all the more remarkable was that just three years earlier he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer which resulted in him having to undergo surgery to remove his spleen and appendix.

At the time of his death Blatnick was still connected to his wrestling roots as a varsity coach at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, while he was also a popular motivational speaker.

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