HIGHLAND, Calif. – An inspirational mixed martial arts veteran who conquered cancer used his final fight to spark what may become a new tradition in the sport.

After beating Brandon Anderson at a King of the Cage card last week, John De La O, a 42-year-old from Huntington Beach, Calif., bowed in all directions to the crowd at the San Manuel Indian Resort and Casino before laying down his gloves in the middle of the octagon and leaving the arena. De La O says he did it because it ‘felt symbolic’ and hopes it will becomes a trend in the rapidly growing sport of MMA.

"I am leaving my competitive career behind but I left my gloves behind to show that my heart as a fighter remains,” De La O told Yahoo! Sports. "I hope it is something we see more fighters do moving forwards. MMA is such a new sport so there is not a lot of tradition yet like you see in other sports. It was something for the people who believe that values, history and tradition in sports are worth something."

Following his first-round submission victory over Anderson, De La O also made a cutting motion on his own body to signify his successful battle with cancer. Five years ago he was diagnosed with defused B-cell lymphoma and considers himself fortunate to still be alive, let alone fit enough to compete in the fight game.

"I almost checked out a couple of times but I made it back," said De La O, who runs De La O Jiu Jitsu, a martial arts training center in Southern California. "I got rid of the lymphoma, but then I almost lost an arm because of a blood clot."

De La O fought five times since returning to MMA in 2010 and although he did not make it to the pinnacle of the sport, he was a popular and well-respected member of the fight community, especially in California.

"John is a great guy and a lot of young fighters who think they know a lot could learn a thing or two from him and what he has been through," said Mike Low, King of the Cage promoter. "John has got a bit of a mouth on him and sometimes people take it the wrong way but he is the kind of guy you love to see fight because of how dedicated he is. I would love to see more guys go out the way he did, complete with the little ceremony at the end."

While De La O received almost universal support after his cancer struggle, his last opponent, Anderson, managed to incite his anger. After De La O responded to what he perceived as a discriminatory comment from Anderson on Facebook, Anderson allegedly taunted De La O about his disease.

A stream of insults flew back and forwards, with friends of both fighters also getting involved. The social media storm was enough to convince Low to make a fight between the men on his next card – a truly 21st century piece of match-making.

"After what went down there was no way I was going to lose to him," De La O said. "Especially in my last fight. When I had cancer I would lay there, not able to run or train or do a single push-up, and I told myself if I ever got back then I would [work harder than everybody else]."

De La O's last triumph was not rewarded with a belt or a blockbuster paycheck, but for a man who has seen it all in the sport it was mightily sweet. And, as he bids farewell to MMA, he may very well be leaving a fresh tradition behind.

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Stephen Strasburg finally has shutdown talk with Nationals
Jason Cole: NFL circulates memo about its position on talks with refs
Baylor doesn't miss a beat without RG3, crushing SMU

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Why Daniel Cormier%26#x2019;s emotions may be his biggest obstacle (Yahoo Sports)

  • 8 days ago
  • 1 views

From Yahoo Sports: Cormier will be put to the test again Saturday as he faces Anthony Johnson for the UFC light heavyweight title. read news >>

Why Daniel Cormier%26#x2019;s emotions may be his biggest obstacle (Yahoo Sports)

  • 8 days ago
  • 0 views

From Yahoo Sports: Cormier will be put to the test again Saturday as he faces Anthony Johnson for the UFC light heavyweight title. read news >>

Chael Sonnen signs deal to be pro wrestling analyst (Yahoo Sports)

  • 21 days ago
  • 0 views

From Yahoo Sports: The former UFC middleweight will announce for a new promotion owned by a former WWE star. read news >>

Chael Sonnen signs deal to be pro wrestling analyst (Yahoo Sports)

  • 21 days ago
  • 0 views

From Yahoo Sports: The former UFC middleweight will announce for a new promotion owned by a former WWE star. read news >>

Claudia Gadelha on Paige VanZant: 'If you put her against anyone from the top 5, she can’t win'

  • 22 days ago
  • 4 views

UFC women's strawweight Claudia Gadelha praised Paige VanZant, but wasn't ready to crown her as a serious contender just yet. Plenty of attention on the UFC women's strawweight division has been cent read news >>

Jon Jones, rash of injuries leave UFC in flux ahead of marquee events (Yahoo Sports)

  • 24 days ago
  • 8 views

From Yahoo Sports: UFC 187 was supposed to be an immaculate event but circumstances have changed that drastically. read news >>

Jon Jones, rash of injuries leave UFC in dire straits ahead of marquee events (Yahoo Sports)

  • 24 days ago
  • 118 views

From Yahoo Sports: UFC 187 was supposed to be an immaculate event but circumstances have changed that drastically. read news >>

How did UFC champ Robbie Lawler turn around his career? His advice is simple

  • 24 days ago
  • 227 views

Three years ago, Robbie Lawler was generally considered an entertaining fighter but one whose best years seemed to be in the past. So how did the recently crowned UFC welterweight champion turn it al read news >>

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao post-fight show

  • 24 days ago
  • 9 views

LAS VEGAS -- SB Nation's Luke Thomas and Yahoo!'s Kevin Iole were in Sin City for the big boxing bout between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night. The two talk judges scores, P read news >>