UFC pioneer Paul Varelans, 51, who made debut at UFC 6 and was dubbed 'The Polar Bear' dies of coronavirus

UFC fan favourite Paul Varelans has reportedly died aged 51 after contracting Covid-19.

The 6ft 8in powerhouse passed away yesterday after a month-long battle with the virus, according to multiple posts on his Facebook page.

And MMA Junkie confirmed his death after speaking to a person close to his family.

Varelans was infected with coronavirus in mid December. 

He had been in a medically induced coma at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Varelans had continued to keep his supporters on his condition throughout his health battle via social media.

But a few days after his last update, UFC co-founder Art Davie announced the veteran had been placed on a respirator and was in a coma.

The former college football star made his octagon debut at the legendary UFC 6 event in 1995.

He memorably defeated Cal Worsham in the quarter-finals in just 62 seconds with a stunning knockout with elbows.

The pioneer then went on to suffer a TKO defeat to Tank Abbott in the semis.

He got all the way to the final at UFC 7 by submitting Gerry Harris and Mark Hall.

But Marco Raus inflicted another TKO loss on him at the 13:17 mark of the no rounds, no time limit final.

Varelans would make two more UFC appearances.

He earned a decision over Joe Moreira and lost to Kimo Leopoldo at Ultimate Ultimate ’96. 

The American’s final bout was a knockout triumph over Dick Vrij on a Rings card in 1998 in Amsterdam.

He finished his career with a record of 9-9.

But it was not only MMA that he competed in, he also led the way for a host of stars to cross over from the cage into the wrestling ring.

Varelans appeared in the infamous ECW wrestling promotion back in 1996.

A host of tributes poured in for the late fighter following the sad news:

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