Updated: Sep 13, 2021
It's with a heavy heart that we announce that New England MMA pioneer, Sean Gannon, has passed away at the age of 51. The Boston native had a heart attack on Monday and fell into a coma, and passed away peacefully yesterday morning.
Many newer fans to the sport of MMA in the region probably aren't familiar with Gannon, but if there was a New England MMA hall of fame, Gannon would undoubtedly be a first ballot inductee. He was a pioneer in so many aspects of combat sports in our region, and it goes without saying that our community has lost an invaluable member.
Not only was Gannon a hero in his everyday life as a member of the Boston Police Department for 20 years, but he was also, without question, a legend and pioneer in the sport of MMA in our region. Someone who impacted people in so many more ways than just being an incredible fighter.
The Early Years
One of Gannon's early training partners, Mike Littlefield, posted an awesome tribute to the fallen fighter yesterday, and talked about Gannon's early days training and competing in New England. Gannon regularly traveled around to train with some of the best fighters in the region, but he got his start at Boston BJJ where he first met Littlefield. Soon thereafter "The Cannon" was traveling to Taunton to train at Littlefield's "freestyle fighting" gym, The Boneyard, with some of the best heavyweights competing in this new sport in the region.
Soon enough Gannon was looking to test his skills in the sport of MMA, and made his amateur debut in 2003. He fought the likes of Josh Diekman and Mike Dexter over the next few years as he transitioned from an amateur to a professional. After defeating Mike Dexter at Mass Destruction 17 in August of 2004, Gannon had the opportunity to fight Dan Severn, but the local commission would not sanction the fight due to the gap in experience between the two competitors, but many knew that if Gannon could stay off his back against Severn, that he'd pick him apart on the feet and would surely come out the victor.
After disappointingly losing out on the Severn opportunity, Gannon came across an open invitation to fight a man who was shaking up the internet, in an unsanctioned bare knuckle fight. This fight would change the trajectory of Gannon's career and life.