Former 1984 Olympic gold medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling, MMA judge, referee and commentator, Jeff Blatnick passed away Wednesday morning from complications following heart surgery. WNYT-TV in Albany confirmed the news.
The New York native was a color commentator and advisor to the UFC when it started out. He worked with the promotion from UFC 4 through UFC 32. In his role, he also helped to develop rules of Mixed Martial Arts that are still in use today.
Later down the road, he became a licensed MMA judge and referee with the New Jersey State Athletic Commission.
Additionally, Blatnick served as USA Wrestling’s state chairman in New York and was a wrestling commentator for NBC and ESPN.
In 1982, Blatnick had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After parts of his spleen and appendix removed and chemotherapy, the cancer went into remission. He qualified for the Olympic team in 1980, but didn’t compete because of the USA boycott on the games. He returned in 1984 to the Olympic team and went on to win the gold in Greco-Roman wrestling.
Jeff Blatnick is survived by his wife and two children.