28-year-old Bellator fighter suffers cardiac arrest at gym

Cris Lencioni was expected to face James Gallagher at Bellator 298.

By: Lucas Rezende | 3 months ago
28-year-old Bellator fighter suffers cardiac arrest at gym
IMAGO/ZUMA WIRE_ Cris Lencioni was expected to face James Gallagher at Bellator 298.

A young Bellator featherweight has suffered a health scare and is now in a critical condition. 28-year-old Cris Lencioni has been hospitalized after a cardiac arrest has put him in the ICU in the beginning of the month.

On June 19, Lencioni’s family confirmed a report from Fansided’s Amy Kaplan, and started a Go Fund Me page in order to raise money to help the young lightweight pay for his medical expenses. Their goal is to gather a quarter million dollars and are currently sitting just over 50 thousand.

Cris Lencioni was expected to fight at Bellator 298

In their Go Fund Me page, a message about Lencioni’s condition tries to stay positive about the scary turn of events. Being a professional, ‘Sunshine’ was in peak physical condition, which surprised his family and teammates when they learned about the news.

The message goes into the Bellator fighter’s personal life and work outside of the cage, stating that the athlete is married and has a two-year-old son. Additionally, the 28-year-old also gives Brazilian jiu-jitsu lessons to children pro bono.

“On June 8th Cris suffered a cardiac arrest. As you can imagine this was completely unexpected considering he is only 28 and in peak physical condition. Cris is currently in the ICU in his biggest fight yet. We believe in the goodness of God, and we don’t know anyone with more will, strength, and determination than Cris. Cris has already overcome so much in his life, and we have faith in his ability to overcome any obstacle.”

“He loves working with children and has often made sure kids were able to participate in tournaments and train BJJ in his gym regardless of their ability to pay. He has always talked about the importance of mentoring kids and being there to support kids who are struggling with hard things. His gym and kids’ program is his passion project.”

Currently on a four-fight winning streak, Cris Lencioni (11-3) defeated Blake Smith, Cody Law, Talon Hofman and Drako Rodriguez in his most recent outings. The 28-year-old’s last loss took place in February 2022, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Don Shainis.

Sunshine was expected to take on James Gallagher at Bellator 298, in Sioux Falls, North Dakota, on August 11.

Other MMA fighters have also suffered from heart conditions

Unfortunate as the news about Lencioni are, he was not the first MMA fighter to suffer from heart conditions. In fact, other athletes were not lucky enough to survive their scares, too. Perhaps the most well-known case being that of former UFC heavyweight and internet sensation Kevin ‘Kimbo Slice’ Ferguson, who died of heart failure at age 42 in 2016.

Ferguson was unfortunately not the only one. Back in 2019, 22-year-old Brazilian bantamweight Mateus Fernandes passed away after suffering four heart attacks following a knockout loss. In similar fashion, former UFC and Bellator welterweight Erick Silva has confirmed that the reason behind his retirement at age 38 was due to a COVID-19 related heart attack.

You know you can count on us for quick, consistent quality MMA coverage. Bloody Elbow is an independent, reader supported publication. Please subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with our best work and learn how you can support the site.

Join the new Bloody Elbow

Our Substack is where we feature the work of writers like Zach Arnold, John Nash and Karim Zidan. We’re fighting for the sport, the fighters and the fans. Please help us by subscribing today.

Share this story

About the author
Lucas Rezende
Lucas Rezende

Lucas Rezende is a Brazilian journalist and writer from Belem, Para. He has been covering MMA since 2012 and contributing with Bloody Elbow since March 2015. When not writing, Lucas also teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys reading, slapping the bass guitar and traveling.

More from the author

Bloody Elbow Podcast
Related Stories