Jeff Blatnick has died at the age of 55 due to complications from
Albany, N.Y.’s WNYT first brought word of Blatnick’s passing
Born in Niskayuna, N.Y., Blatnick became a high school wrestling
champion and then earned a pair of NCAA Division II wrestling
titles while attending Springfield College in Springfield, Mass.
Blatnick qualified for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow but was
unable to compete due to the United States’ boycott of the event.
Following a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Blatnick went on to
capture Olympic gold in Greco-Roman wrestling in 1984.
The New Yorker made his foray into mixed martial arts as a
commentator at UFC
4 in 1994 and remained employed in that capacity through 2001.
Blatnick then turned his primary focus to the regulation of the
sport, drafting the Mixed Martial Arts Council manual and serving
as that body’s chair. He also performed duties as a licensed judge
in New Jersey and volunteered as a high school wrestling coach in
his home state.
“Jeff should be remembered as one of the most important figures in
the growth and formation of MMA in this country,” Nick Lembo,
counsel to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, told
Sherdog.com. “He was the Chair of the MMAC, a key drafter of the
proposed unified rules and an outstanding judge and trainer to new
officials. Every fan of MMA owes a debt of gratitude to Jeff
Blatnick for how hard he fought for the sport. He was friendly but
“He was also a dear personal friend and a man of loyalty, integrity
and kindness. I will miss him terribly as a friend.”