Sadness touched the UFC family this week when Michael ‘Mikey’ Schneider, a 16-year-old who had recently befriended UFC president Dana White, succumbed to the cancer he had been diagnosed with at age 11.
“I met Michael at UFC 279 his friends and family put together a Go Fund Me to get him to meet me.... We jumped on it and got him there,” White wrote Thursday night on his social media. “This kid was SO AWESOME. I immediately loved him.”
After arriving in Las Vegas for UFC 279 was given an all-access pass by White at T-Mobile Arena and was able to enjoy the full spectacle of the event. Schneider cherished the experience, and even refused to remove the wristband credentials he wore that evening when he returned to the hospital for medical treatment.
Bonding over all variety of sports is common in the Schneider household, but the UFC was the favorite that the entire family would watch together. A wrestler himself before his diagnosis, Schneider’s love of The Ultimate Fighter blossomed into pure love of the UFC.
“He was such an amazing kid I invited him to UFC 281 in NYC,” White continued. “His parents said he was so pumped all he cared about was getting to NYC for this event.”
It didn’t hurt that his favorite fighter was the star of the main event, Israel Adesanya. But the thrills wouldn’t end there.
PHOTO GALLERY: Remembering Mikey Schneider
“I sat him right behind Mike Tyson and I f***** love u Mike Tyson!!! Without being told anything Mike treated Michael so good and took pics with him, etc.”
Schneider would meet several celebrities and UFC personnel that evening, an occasion that he counted---along with UFC 279—as the two greatest experiences of his life. The wristband momentos for both events would remain forever on his wrists.
With a true fighter’s spirit, Schneider defied the odds the past five years, long surpassing the mere months he was given to survive after his original diagnosis of metastatic neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system. Undergoing countless cancer treatments in the years since, Schneider was proud to make it to his 16th birthday last October 26. He even got his learner’s permit at home in Connecticut, despite often being confined to a wheelchair.
Described as humble, sweet, goofy, polite, caring smart and fun-loving by nearly anyone who met him, Schneider had the power to make an impression on all he came in contact with.
“Amazing, incredible, beautiful little Michael passed away today and I’m f***** devastated,” White wrote. “He held on long enough to make the event and I just want to thank EVERYONE involved with Saturday Night that made his weekend special. My heart goes out to Michael’s friends and family and I want to thank you Heather and Brian for introducing me to him. I will never forget him.”