MMA star CHAN-Ryu passed away at 21, weight cut likely culprit

The MMA community mourns the loss of the talented Japanese competitor CHAN-Ryu (6-0), who tragically passed away at the young age of 21. It is alleged that complications arising from weight cutting might have been the cause of this untimely demise.

Born as Ryuya Iwamoto, CHAN-Ryu was preparing to face Taira Uehara at Shooto 2023 Vol.5 on July 23. Unfortunately he did not appear for the press conference, prompting the promotion to conduct a wellness check on him.

The wellness check was conducted by a representative from Ryu’s gym, MMA Z Gym in Tokushima. They later reported back to the promotion that the young competitor had tragically passed away.

A Facebook post by pro wrestler Ryoji Sai who was acquainted with Ryu talked about the situation. Sai mentioned that Ryu “made a mistake on the point of losing his weight last time, so he was trying to lose his weight this time” for his upcoming match.

CHAN-Ryu’s weight-cutting struggles were evident earlier in the year when he was supposed to compete in the Shooto’s 2023 Infinity League Featherweight in March. However, the match had to be cancelled as Ryu missed weight.

At this point, no official cause of death has been disclosed.

The chairman of Shooto released a statement expressing his condolences on the passing of Chan-Ryu. He said, “We sincerely pray for the repose of the soul of CHAN-Ryu, and we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has warmly cheered and supported CHAN-Ryu until now.”

Despite his young age, CHAN-Ryu had already made a significant impact on the MMA world with an impressive record of 3 KOs and 2 submissions. He was also honored as the 2022 Shooto Featherweight Rookie of the Year.

The tragic death of CHAN-Ryu brings the long-standing issue of weight cutting in MMA into the spotlight once again. The sport has witnessed other incidents, with one of the most notable being Yang Jian Bing from One Championship.

Following Bing’s death, One Championship took measures to mitigate the harmful effects of weight cuts by implementing hydration tests. But several combatants have failed the hydration tests, drawing criticism from both fellow competitors and medical experts.