Jeff Blatnick, who claimed Olympic gold in Greco-Roman wrestling during the 1984 Games, passed away on Wednesday. Blatnick, 55 years old, died from complications following heart surgery.
Blatnick, a two-time Olympian during his career, was a commentator for the UFC and had been a MMA referee and licensed judge in the state of New Jersey.
“The UFC sends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of former commentator and judge Jeff Blatnick, who passed away Wednesday after complications following heart surgery,” a statement on the UFC’s website read. “A 1984 Olympic Gold medal winner in Greco-Roman wrestling AFTER battling cancer, Blatnick was a pioneering force in mixed martial arts who introduced countless people to the sport as a UFC commentator from UFC 4 through 32. Blatnick also worked closely with athletic commissions regarding the sport he loved, and he would later serve as an MMA judge, even working several UFC events.”
Blatnick wrestled at Springfield College, earning two NCAA Div. II heavyweight championships. In 1982, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had his spleen and appendix removed. Two years later, he won Olympic gold in Los Angeles, joining his teammate, Steve Fraser, as the first Americans to ever win gold in Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling.