Former UFC fighter Paul Varelans has died at 51-years-old after a battle with the Covid-19 virus.
Varelans had been taken into an Atlanta hospital on December 15th after having been diagnosed with coronavirus three days earlier.
“Best way I can compare the feel of COVID-19 in my experience is, it’s like fighting a guy who specializes in kidney punches,” Varelans had wrote on social media at the time. “They never stop coming.”
Varelans was placed in an induced coma, and though there had been slightly positive signs of recovery over the festive season, his condition then deteriorated again and last Friday his loved ones were told he didn’t have much time left. he passed away a day later.
“After a solid month of fighting off COVID while in a coma on various machinery fighting off multiple infections Paul’s body finally grew exhausted,” Varelans friend Shane Viens wrote on Facebook. “Anyone that truly knew Paulie knew he was all heart. A fighter to his core he was not one to give up and he [gave] us his all. He left us [Saturday] morning. I was able to tell him I loved him one last time on speaker phone.”
Known as ‘The Polar Bear’, the 6ft 8″, 300lbs+ Varelans was one of the Goliath’s of the Octagon in the early days of the sport.
His first appearance was at UFC 6 in 1995, where he TKO’d Cal Worsham and was then stopped by Tank Abbott. He’d appear again at UFC 7 and forced Gerry Harris to submit due to strikes and then showed off his submission skills by pulling of an americana against Mark Hall, before being chopped down by a Marco Ruas leg-kick clinic in the final.
Varelans also fought at UFC 8 and Ultimate Ultimate 1995 and 1996, picking up a win over Joe Moreira and losses to Dan Severn and Kimo Leopoldo, leaving him with an overall 4-4 UFC record.
Varelans would go on to fight for the likes of Pancrase, Rings and World Vale Tudo Championships until 1998, when he retired with a 9-9 record.