Photo of Tanner’s campsite a metaphor

by:  Jack Bratcher

If a picture speaks a thousand words, this picture could possibly be looked at as a metaphor for Evan Tanner’s life.  When most people go camping for days at a time you would probably expect to see many more “necessities” at their campsite.  However, the word “necessities” meant something completely different to Evan Tanner than it does to most people.  In that regard, combined with his philosophy on life, Evan Tanner was somewhat of a modern day mystic.

This photograph was published today in the San Diego Union-Tribune.  It is a photo of Evan Tanner’s campsite.  Keep in mind this camp is in the middle of the desert; there are no shade trees, no running water, and over 100-degree heat.  Evan had all that he needed there.  He had his shelter, bedding, a folding chair, and transportation.  Also found were some sunscreen, a highlighter, and a notebook.

Evan Tanner was the former UFC Middleweight Champion of the world.  He would stand toe-to-toe with any man and lay it all on the line.  He let the chips fall where they may and if it was not his night, that was o.k., he would be back when the time was right.  In his last battle he stood toe-to-toe with mother nature.  For some reason only known to Evan, he needed to go to the desert.  He wanted that heat; probably to help purify some ancient demon that men have been fighting for centuries.

As Evan made is way deep into the desert in Imperial County, CA., he sent text messages to friends indicating there might be some trouble and that if they didn’t hear from him by the next morning, they should call for help. He was near Clapp Spring and running out of gas and water.  They did not hear back from Evan so they made the call for help.  Marine helicopters from Yuma Air Station and local search and rescue volunteers scoured the area.

The rescue workers located his camp, where he still had several pouches filled with water.  The next day, five days after his initial departure,  they found his body two miles from camp and several miles from a dilapitated spring that a map may have shown as a water source.  He was carrying a GPS device. There was an empty water pouch nearby.  An autopsy has ruled the cause of death was heat exhaustion.

Evan went into one last battle.  Yes it was against nature but more so it was against himself.  Once again he was testing the limits, pushing himself to the edge of endurance.  He may have died young but he experienced more and was more alive while he lived than the majority of people will ever experience themselves.

Life is a lot like an MMA fight.  Sometimes you are out there in the midst of the battle swinging away with blood and sweat flying.  Sometimes you’re on your back and getting pummeled.  Then there is the break between rounds and you want a good cornerman who can stop the cut and give you water.  Personally, I think the fight is never ending.  There are just different stages; early rounds, late rounds, between rounds and even new opponents.  Fights don’t have to be about anger or antagonism.  Our great champions have shown us that.  You can still show much respect to your opponents no matter who or what they are.  Evan is still in the fight you can believe that.  I think he’s probably just between rounds right now, resting up, getting ready for the next big Title Fight.