Episode 55: MMA Fighter Kills Air Force Airman In Bar Fight (2023)
11:38AM Jun 2, 2023
Whoa, just curious. Welcome to Just curious media. This is that's a crime. I'm Jason Connell.
And I'm Sal Rodriguez.
All right, Sal, we are back for another crime.
And unfortunately, one with a fatality, which are my least favorite crime. Sorry about
that. So I know. But the subject matter, I thought of you. And I've also thought, because we've talked about something like this before, unfortunately, happening. Yeah. Because today we're breaking down the True Crime Story of the MMA fighter kills Air Force, air man in bar fight in 2023. It's not good. It's a horrible start. But it does deal with MMA. And I know that you follow that and UFC. And we've always talked about, just avoid fights, unless it's self defense, because one punch or a push, or anything weird, can sometimes unfortunately lead to a fatality.
Yeah, and you don't have to be an MMA fighter know to either be a victim of this or to accidentally, yes, kill somebody. You know, I'm sure Jason, I've discussed this on another podcast of ours. Another that's a crime, I'm sure. Is that my grandfather? Yes. Well accidentally killed a man. And I even saw I saw the newspaper clipping. So you know, just to let you know, it wasn't just folklore. I saw the newspaper clipping from I guess, the 40s, maybe the mid 40s. And yeah, he caught his wife with another man. I don't know the status of their relationship. But he found his wife with another man or his girlfriend with another man did punch him? Yeah, maybe to just rough them up, maybe to knock them out whatever his intention was. But he did kill him. And it was I think, not even a manslaughter charge. I don't think my grandfather served any time whatsoever. Again, I don't know every detail of the circumstance. But yeah, it can happen, folks. And my grandfather for certain was not an MMA fighter. Yeah.
Well, it's sad. And it's hard to some of these crimes are sell, we have to cover them. Nonetheless, it's important to honor victims and also share with people and this one just stood out, and it intrigued me. And it's very new. I mean, it's not like this week, but it's this month. And it seems like a lot more crimes that I'm researching are more recent. And there's something to that REITs sickness, like we're kind of caught up in the cycle. And maybe as we do more, if we ever get to two crimes in a week, we'll do a classic. And a recent because I'm looking at the paper sounds like oh, yeah, this is a week ago, or this just happened two days ago. And it's hard to look past that. Right? It's like, oh, let's cover this.
It's true, Jason. But the problem with the old versus the new is the old you have a lot of information, lots of information, lots of evidence. Yeah. Whereas the new we have very little information and very little evidence.
That's very true. It's a good points. Well, I think they kind of they're both unique, right? The old ones are classics and we've had time to look at DNA and where they are now. And the folklore if it's a classic crime, and the new stuff is like, wow, this is happening. This is relevant. They both serve a purpose. So you know, right now, we're just kind of going back and forth. But we seem to be in this lane. And let's jump in to this crime. I'm ready. So on April 9 2023 23 year old amateur MMA fighter Ross Johnson allegedly killed 31 year old Air Force, Airman First Class, Dave on Larry, with a single punch during a bar fight in Panama City, Florida. Now, this is tragic, as we've been discussing, and honestly, it is a great fear of mine. Not necessarily that I'll do it, but anybody I know. Either they punch or push or do something are in reverse. It happens to them. And, you know, I know you're so well versed in MMA and UFC besides your own family member your grandfather's story, which is tragic in its own right, but had you heard of this happening before outside of that or anybody in the MMA UFC space? And are out of the ring? I guess?
Yeah. I don't know of any MMA fighter being accidentally killed in a fighting cage that I've never heard of. There have been a couple of MMA fighters, which we may get to at some point, and that's a crime who have committed crimes and I've been accused of murder. Okay. Yeah, there's been, I believe at least two MMA fighters who were accused of murder. One who I'm thinking of, for certain only recently, I believe, wow, as far as boxers, I believe that there have been at least one or two casualties in the ring, or guys who were killed as a direct result of official match. Right. So yeah, it just goes to show you know, that whole idea of these hands are deadly weapons. They used to say that, you know, I gotta register these hands. It's not just you know, Legendary. You are officially a dangerous person if you know how to hit someone, and you know how to hit them very hard.
Yeah. Reminds me of the film The perfect weapon. Yes, I remember. Well, apparently the deadly altercation took place at the Coyote Ugly saloon. Now so I know the movie Coyote Ugly came out in 2000. Actually, it was released on my birthday. I looked it up today, July 31 2000. Assault in a movie theater. But I didn't realize there were actual Coyote Ugly saloons. The irony being in this case that coyote ugly means and I'll save it for you to explain. But the movie has a very different representation with beautiful bartenders, the movies I remember, you know, a little over the top I salacious but so for the listeners or the viewers, please explain what Coyote Ugly is for those who do not know.
The term refers to an ugly one nightstand partner. It drew inspiration from actual coyotes, as they tend to be so desperate to escape from traps that they chew off their own limbs. Oh, I know. So the idea is you have a one night stand. The other party is laying on your arm. So you chew off your own arm. Okay, I've heard of that. Yes.
Okay. So that's where it comes from. Now that was the only humor in this entire episode, but I thought it was interesting because I didn't know they became a chain, you know, sometimes moving.
I didn't know either spawn.
Now, as for the like, like,
for example, the Bubba shrimp whether you go oh, that was true became a chain from the movie
that was directly inspired from Forrest Gump. Absolutely. So I don't know if Cody ugly, the movie came after the fact or it became a movie and then the hey, let's make these, you know, subsequent bars. But who knows, we'll find that out later. But as for the crime, the police report states that Johnson, the MMA fighter, and his friends got into a verbal altercation with another group at the bar. Now, as Johnson ran to help his friend, he had allegedly struck Larry the Air Force airmen behind the left ear. Now, so I'm assuming that Larry wasn't even looking. And then to get hid behind the ear, Johnson could have been running like a running punch or something just with a lot of power immunity hid there in a bar. I'm not sure if it's a crazy bra. But it doesn't seem like you'd see that one coming. It's almost like you're looking in another direction. And here comes a shot to your back of your head.
Yeah, you know, Jason, one of the big rules of MMA and for the new people. MMA is mixed martial arts. That's what that stands for. One of the big rules is that you are not allowed to hit in the back of the head. And you will see the ref stop the fight and say, hey, no hitting and you get penalized, you can be deducted points. Because apparently, the back of the head is a dangerous place to get hit, especially to get hit hard. Like you'd rather get punched in the face. Any of us would rather get punched in the face than hit in the back of head because and keep in mind when it comes to the street fights, there's two hits. The first one is the obvious one, the punch or the kick. That's the first hit. Guess what the second hit is hitting the ground. Your head hitting the ground. There's no math there. No, there's no referee. There's no judges. There's no crowd. No, it's just you and this attacker, theoretically. And yeah, when you hit the ground, they're not rendering aid.
That's right. Yeah. And our ring, it's gonna give it's only so hard. It's not an asphalt. It's not a you know, it's not a chair. It's not a car. I totally agree. So now as for Larry, he was left unconscious and unattended in the parking lot is Johnson took an Uber back to his nearby hotel. Not that Johnson was going to help him up. But like, my question is, why is Larry unattended? He's got friends, and he's in a parking lot. Where are his friends? Where are the bouncers? Saw? Where are the police?
Yeah, I don't know what's going on here. But it definitely appears that our victim was could have just been an innocent bystander. Yes, right. We don't even know that he was involved in anything until that very punch took place. Yeah,
well, we do know, more coming up in just a moment. So according to NBC News, Larry, who had been stationed at Panama City's Tyndall Air Force Base did not participate in the altercation between the two groups. So so he could have been trying to be the peacemaker. And then he takes this deadly blow to the back of the head because from afar, you can't tell he's probably saying, Hey, guys, you know, he's probably got a cooler head about him. And then this happens to him.
Yeah, I think that this guy, this MMA fighter, by the way, just to be clear, for the sake of MMA as a sport, yeah. This event, this crime, this tragedy, did not have to do with MMA. No. It was not within the confines of any MMA organization or the UFC or anything. This was some guy who happened to be an MMA fighter that happened to punch another guy who could have been an innocent bystander, and that guy happened to be dead. I'm not even saying that the, the guy who punched the MMA fighter meant to kill the guy who probably did not mean to kill the guy, right? He probably just meant to punch him and move right along. But unfortunately, not knowing his own power, probably not to mention being full of adrenaline. Yeah. So yeah, just a bad bad scenario.
He's also very young. He's also well trained. And he's in this environment. And I think earlier on I said he was going to save his friend, you know, this is all just allegedly talk. But you know, a guy like that, who is trained, doesn't need to be throwing a punch in a place like this. And that's what I did learn through martial arts. Now that you know, some things listen, nowhere near my masters or anyone I've trained with, but sure you know, enough to avoid it at all cost.
Well, you know, what you can avoid also, Jason is if you are a trained martial artist, if you know how to fight legitimately, you know, that you can just deescalate you can a walk away, it's the plan or de escalate, you do not even necessarily have to push. I think a lot of us have seen these videos of these MMA fighters who may be subdued. A robber subdued a suspect without even punching them. Yeah. So you don't even always have to throw a punch to disable somebody. Yeah,
let's not forget the red bar. People get liquored up in a bar, bad judgments, and a bar. Unfortunately, and unfortunately, for our airmen here, now, eventually, Larry was attended to and transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Which is just, it's really, really hard to hear to read. But an autopsy revealed Larry suffered a three inch skull fracture, and a bruise the size of a softball behind his ear. So that punch was so severe, it cracked his skull, has inflammation and has this bruise and it kills him.
You know, Jason, we all know that there's such thing as military court, like if a military person does something else, do another military person, or if you're a military stationed overseas, you do something, you know, bad. The military courts will deal with you. And apparently, they're much more strict and stringent and stern than even our regular system. So we've all heard, I should hope that the fact that Larry was an airman Yep, that our suspect could potentially face some sort of military charges. But I don't know. I don't know the transfers, you know?
Yeah. I wish it was on the base. I mean, first of all, I wish it never happened. But on the base, maybe there's a different, you know, yeah.
Make a difference. Yeah, exactly.
And it really is a case of the wrong place at the wrong time. And here's an innocent person trying to break things up. And you don't even see it coming. You get hit. And the next thing you know, he's pronounced dead. It's. I feel for him, his family, his friends, our country, we're losing a good man. For no reason, senseless.
Well, this Jason falls into the category that we've all heard. I know, in my old neighborhood, this was a thing, a sucker punch. Totally, this was an absolute sucker punch.
Now as for Johnson, Police allege he continuously omitted facts regarding the deadly assault when speaking with others. He did not recall punching the victim before he claimed he was defending himself alleging Larry was running to join the initial confrontation. Now, the police report also states that Johnson told a witness the following, which is quite damning.
Man, I hit that guy. I laid him out. And I think I killed him.
Well, there you go. Obviously didn't forget punching him. This is probably the real honesty telling you to witness this an onslaught of hearsay, allegedly. But you know, this is what I'm reporting what I read. But that hurts to hear
well, also, we don't know who that who is that witness don't have a witness who was that?
We don't have been one of his friends and they came, they're the cops and they pulled everybody apart. But obviously, it's a
tough one. I would never, I would never want to be in a situation where I would have to turn a friend and I would never want to I would not want to know, right, Jason, if you told me that you killed somebody, you know how much I'd have to wrestle with? Oh, my God. I think I have to turn him in, you know, and it will kill me. But I think I'd have to you'd
have to share what was said with the authorities. While Ross Johnson was arrested and charged with manslaughter and is being held on a $250,000 bond As for his MMA career, amateur career, I should say, and background, he has five wins two losses. And his last fight was in 2021. And he had three years of advanced fighting training.
Okay, so let me tell you this, Jason, from what I've experienced as an MMA fan, and as a UFC fan, if you commit a crime, even if you maybe get off, or even if you get a light sentence, once you cross this type of threshold, a lot of the top organizations, let's just say the top American organizations will probably not want you to be a part of their organization, right? It'll be like the NFL. Like, if a football player did something like this, you're probably not going back into the NFL. Yeah. Okay. But here's the but here's an amateur these types of individuals. Well, he can either stay in the amateur ranks maybe, or go overseas. And there's, I'm telling you, there's a new fighting organization popping up overseas seems like every month, so he could still have a career overseas and still become and maintain or become Yeah, cuz he's an amateur, become a professional mixed martial arts fighter in an overseas organization,
assuming he's not in jail. Well, okay. Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
So let's see what happens again, we don't know he's just arrested. We don't have the follow up yet.
So Air Force Airman First Class Dave on Larry was part of the Tyndall Air Force bases 320/5 Security Forces Squadron. And Sal, please describe them for us the squadron.
The squadron provides force protection programs to include weapons system security, police services, resource protection and anti terrorism for the base.
Wow. An incredible service. And again, we United States, we lost a great young man who is part of this, and there's more we're gonna find out just the character of Larry. So the Tyndall Air Force Base had the following statement themselves.
During his time at Tyndall, a one C Larry made a lasting impact. He was truly an outstanding airmen. His passion for helping the local youth and his fellow airmen will be sorely missed by all our deepest condolences to his family, friends and fellow airmen. Oh, boy, wow. Yeah. You know, isn't it always like these types of crimes? Yeah. They always get like good people. It's always like the valedictorians always the drunk driver kills a really great kid. You know, it's always like the good people that this happens to?
It sure seems that way. You know, unfortunately, it does seem that way. Well, a staff sergeant Rosemary McGill and Air Force recruiter in Larry's hometown remember the airman. In her own words. I'm at a loss for words. He came into my office a little more than a year ago to join the Air Force, and I got to see his progress from day one. He always went above and beyond for me, his family friends wingman, and his community. He was always stopping by the office to see how he could help. He was a charging force in people's lives by uplifting them and motivating them to always do their best. Wow. A good, good man, a good soul. And unfortunately, and this might be redundant, but we lost him far too young.
Yeah, rest in peace, Dave on Larry airmen. And thank you for your service as well.
Yes, absolutely. Rest in peace. And this is like many of these recent crimes that you just alluded to, we don't have any more facts. I hope that the evidence is stiff. This is just an article that I pulled and this is all the information that we have. Yes, I want Ross and anyone for that matter to pay for their crimes. I mean, I do I do seek justice, but we have a justice system. And a lot of these crimes are more recent. They're going into this phase of court, sentencing. And if we get updates Yeah, that'd be a good excuse to come back and do a shorter update on this. But from the looks of it, it doesn't seem like self defense. It does seem like manslaughter. Now every state has rules on things. They're very different. And I don't even know if there's video Sal, I don't know. This seems like there's video on everything. I looked in there wasn't but there probably is some security footage or something. If a bar brawl breaks out, someone's got a phone on it. You would think? Yeah,
there were some witnesses. Probably more with more witnesses will come forward. Maybe at some point also. Yeah.
But the fact remains that we've lost this Air Force airmen and it's a tragedy, and I hope to God that these things can be cautionary tales to stay out of brawls that's not the solution. MMA fighters are not or if you know how to punch and fight. Use that to de escalate things, right. It gives you confidence. People usually fight out of fear. Like oh my god, I'm so scared for myself. I'm gonna that's all One thing if you're being attacked, and you're innocent, and you're just self defense for you, your loved ones, but it's another to be like, hey, I want to go over here and get involved in this melee. Not good. You're accountable for your actions.
Yeah. And there's a lot of potential hazards and dangers, which you know, don't get it twisted by watching Hollywood movies. Don't get it twisted by watching professional fighting in the cage in the ring with the soft floor. No, no, do not go getting in fights in public around asphalt and concrete and drunken people stay away. Yeah, we
love movies like Roadhouse. Right? Sure. A lot of bar fights going on there and the new Roadhouse coming out. I'm sure there'll be a mix and he's MMA in that one, so, like this is your wheelhouse, but don't get tantalized too much by that real life is different. And life is precious and fragile. And one punch in the wrong place. To someone not expecting it can kill them. Yeah. So that covers the True Crime Story of the MMA fighter kills Air Force airmen in bar fight in 2023. Sal, we will be back with more crimes, some fatalities. Not all. Don't worry, we mix it up here because we cover
all things from a misdemeanor to a murder.
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