Grief and Emotional Pain: The Knockout of a UFC FighterFighter

Thought to have been on the comeback road, pro fighter Josh Samman lost not to a worthy opponent but to his Grief and Addiction.
By Randolph Adair

Randolph Adair SFYB Staff Reporter

Over a year ago, I began working with a client who is a professional fighter in the UFC. I knew little of mixed martial arts, and curiously I wanted to know more about my client’s professional world and began intensely following the world of MMA fighting. It’s another sports universe of its own with its fans, stars, personalities, rivalries and of course…Drama.

Back in October 2016, the MMA/UFC sporting family was saddened by the untimely death of UFC Middleweight fighter Josh Samman. After being found unresponsive at his apartment, Samman died after being in a coma at a hospital for 6 days. His friend Troy Kirkingburg who was found with him in the apartment was unresponsive and pronounced dead at hospital from an overdose of cocaine, heroin and painkillers.

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Josh wrote of his struggle with addiction in his book The Housekeeper: Love, Death, and Prizefighting. He also wrote of the death of his girlfriend Hailey Bevis who died in a car wreck while he was texting with her.

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I have no personal connection to Josh or privy to any specifics about his life and my observations and comments are limited to what I read and glean from the news stories, his words and anecdotal comments from those who knew him.

As a life coach who specializes in sports performance and addictions, as I read about him, what jumped out at me is that he had been in DEEP grief over the death of his girlfriend and the personal guilt that he was the cause of her death.

As a specialist in addiction, the root of addiction is the inability to handle one’s emotional pain. It crosses all demographics of people and economic, familial and social backgrounds.

At a long term drug rehab I worked in, during the intake interview one resident told of witnessing their family burn in a house fire as a child. Another resident spoke of the infidelity and betrayal of her husband, while another resident told of how he was ridiculed as a child by his older brothers and sisters who would not let him interact with their friends and he was sent off by himself.


All three were addicted to heroin and arrived at their addiction from different triggers, but their root is the same. Their inability to handle their emotional pain. The heroin, or whatever the recreational drug of choice for that matter, is covering their pain and keeps them from having to deal with the emotional hurts, stresses and pressures.

In regard to Samman, it is obvious from his interviews that he never got over the guilt and grief of the death of his girlfriend. Even reading his story you could still feel his emotional pain as he tells of what he went through. Sadly and most obviously, whatever method he was using to get through and over the grief did not bring results.

The make matters worse, not long after his girlfriend’s death, he also shared that his mother’s husband, his stepfather died. He was trying to help her handle her grief, all the while still overwhelmed with his own.

Samman tells how he used fighting as a way to work through his pain and to dedicate it to his girlfriend. Again, that is another common coping skill as people will pour themselves into their work to avoid thinking about their issues. Surely he was getting counseling and had a strong support group of friends. But obviously it was not enough as he was still stuck in the “trance” of grief and guilt.


In my experience when working with clients going through grief, you have to remove the emotional pain and take them out of the emotional trance. They have to face the pain, let the pain go and replace it with a new feeling that empowers them, yet honors their love and feelings for the deceased.

For the grieving, just talking about it, replaying the grief in their mind in greater detail, being stuck will only reinforce the program/grief. Telling it over and over whether out loud or inside the head just sets their story stronger and the individual cannot let go and move forward. They will continually seek out a way to drown out and push away the pain.

Another perspective of the addiction as I referenced above, is its use as a coping skill to avoid on all fronts dealing with the pain. Initially the addiction feels good and they can finally feel relaxed and pressure is off. But the consequence is the extended use of the drugs or desired substance causes another level of pain. Financial Loss pain, Family and Relationship pain, Physical pain, Legal pain, and possibly ultimately as in Samman’s case, Lethal Mortal pain.


Most people don’t come equipped with the proper set of coping skills as they have been downloaded into the subconscious from our early upbringing and later life experiences. We don’t judge those sources of the faulty and useless coping skills. But we have to understand, right or wrong, good or bad, it was the best our family and those around us knew at that time.

My hope is that others hearing Samman’s story understand that with proper help, no one has to unsuccessfully deal with their emotional pain and addiction. That’s why I am always sharing with agents and athletes my work and success in helping people let go in a safe loving way, and replace the emotional pain with a love and peace that allows them to move forward in life.

Peace and Love to Josh Samman, his family, friends and colleagues.

Randolph is a Mind Performance and Life Coach specializing in Stress, Grief and Addiction. Like and follow his Facebook page by using the icons in his profile below.

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Randolph Adair has been called a “Mind and Soul Mechanic”. He is a Life Coach/Mind Performance Coach who sees clients Worldwide. With a focus on “self-empowerment”, he helps individuals experience life and perform at the level they were intended to live. Many times people feel they are held back by past memories, events, and traumas that has gotten them off their desired life’s path. He directs his clients in goal setting, career path, past/present relationships, phobias, weight loss, addiction, grief, unwanted repetitive/recycling behaviors, and health/wellness. His work is successfully applied in business/corporate setting and in sports mind performance in handling stresses and improving emotional intelligence.

“What makes me unique is my ability to step into a client’s life and pinpoint their unconscious programs and beliefs causing emotional and physical pain and chaos. These programs are causing them to be “stuck” in patterns that are not serving them. I help them neutralize those feelings and emotions and replace them with their desired feelings, vision and goals. Many times the results are immediate and startling as their focus shifts from what they have been doing and don’t want, to optimism and pursuit of what they most desire. It is self-empowerment at its best.”

Randolph uses a synthesis of NLP, EFT, Hypnosis, Matrix Reimprinting, Memory Reconsolidation and other mind science modalities to bring about change. He draws on his extensive life experiences via his own pursuit of faith and empowerment through his yoga and meditation practice. He also applies his pragmatic background from an extensive 20 year background in the healing arts and physical rehabilitation as an occupational therapist with a diverse range of practice encompassing pediatrics, schools, and acute, inpatient, outpatient settings.
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