Paul Varelans, a UFC pioneer nicknamed “the Polar Bear,” has passed away.
It was after a month long battle with COVID-19, with the former UFC heavyweight discussing his symptoms and revealing that he has tested positive last December. Varelans was eventually put in a medically induced coma and hooked up to a ventilator.
According to MMA author Jonathan Snowden, Varelans was still “breathing 70% on his own” a couple of weeks ago, but “eventually it overwhelmed him.”
On Saturday, the UFC fan favorite passed away at age 51.
RIP Paul Varelans. You left us far too soon. People talk about Pioneers of MMA all the time bringing up names that came into the game years after it began. You were truly one of the pioneers of the sport starting all the way back at UFC 6. Rest in Power my friend!
— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) January 17, 2021
Very sad right now we lost a great man Paul Varelans rest in love . We will all miss you a inspiration to me a inspiration to many . You are in a better place now you are loved by so many ❤️ ❤️
Posted by Mark Coleman on Saturday, January 16, 2021
The massive 6-foot-8 heavyweight is known for having eight fights in the UFC from 1995 to 1996. Most notable was his involvement in the one-night, eight-man tournament at UFC 7. He notched a couple of brutal wins, before losing in its iconic final.
Varelans had a brief, but memorable three-year MMA career. The towering heavyweight went 4-4 in the UFC and 9-9 overall, while taking on legends from MMA’s early days in Marco Ruas, Mark Kerr, Igor Vovchanchyn, Kimo Leopoldo, and Tank Abbott.
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