By all accounts, Evan Tanner was somewhat of a troubled soul. In the midst of a Ultimate Fighting Championship comeback, friends say that they he was struggling with alcohol, and that they had to check on him to make sure that he had food in his refrigerator and that he was taking care of himself. His death was was equally strange: After taking off on a solo camping trip in a remote area of the Palo Verde mountains in southern California, he reportedly ran out of gas on his motorcycle and died of exposure while trying to get out on foot. His body was found by an Imperial County Sheriff's Department deputy on Monday. He was 37.

Tanner, a former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight and a United States Wrestling Federation heavyweight champion, had driven to the area on an offroad motorcycle and was going camping, Moreno said. His friends, who had been sending him text messages, said he left Oceanside on Wednesday. The body was found several miles from a campsite that was located Sunday in the Clapp Springs area of the Palo Verde mountains, where authorities found Tanner's motorcycle and some of his equipment, Moreno said. Temperatures in the area were very high during the weekend, topping out at 114 on Sunday, Moreno said.

Tanner chronicled the preparations for his trip on his blog at

I'm hoping that very soon I'll be sitting out in the quiet of the desert beneath a deep blue midnight sky, listening to the calm desert breeze. The idea going into the desert came to me soon after I moved to Oceanside. It was motivated by my friend Sara's talk of treasure hunting and lost gold, and my own insatiable appetite for adventure and exploration. I began to imagine what might be found in the deep reaches of the untracked desert. It became an obsession of sorts.

When friends again became concerned, he posted this:

It seems some MMA websites have reported on the story, posting up that I might die out in the desert, or that it might be my greatest opponent yet, etc. Come on guys. It's really common down in southern California to go out to the off road recreation areas in the desert about an hour away from LA and San Diego. So my plan is to go out to the desert, do some camping, ride the motorcycle, and shoot some guns. Sounds like a lot of fun to me. A lot of people do it. This isn't a version of "Into the Wild". I'm not going out into the desert with a pair of shorts and a bowie knife, to try to live off the land. I'm going fully geared up, and I'm planning on having some fun.


Tanner's MMA record was 32-8, with the highlight being his win over David Terrell to become middleweight champion at UFC 51 on Super Bowl weekend in 2005. He lost the championship to Rich Franklin at UFC 53. Evan Tanner Dead At Age 37 [Watch Kalib Run] Body In Mountain Area THought To Be Martial Arts Fighter's [San Diego Union Tribune]