Report: UFC Icon and TV Star Passes Away

Teila Tuli: Remembering a UFC Pioneer and Beloved Actor

Teila Tuli, known to many as Taylor Wily, a foundational figure in UFC history and a familiar face on the TV series Hawaii Five-0, has passed away at the age of 56.

From Sumo to Screen: Tuli’s Diverse Career

The late Tuli, whose career spanned from sumo wrestling to mixed martial arts and eventually acting, died on Thursday. His sister, Alyssa, announced his passing through a touching tribute on social media. She shared a video of Taylor’s nephews and nieces singing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” with the caption, “Mourning and celebrating our favourite brother and uncle the way he would want us to. Family, Food, Music and Good Vibes. Aurrrrrrighhhhh (in his voice).”

Tuli’s transition into MMA in 1993 marked a significant moment in combat sports. He was the first competitor to step into the Octagon at the inaugural UFC event, facing the Dutch kickboxer Gerard Gordeau. The bout was brief but historic, lasting only 26 seconds, and ended with Tuli being knocked out—a moment that is still vividly remembered by MMA enthusiasts.

A Legendary Debut in UFC

Despite the physical toll of the fight, where Tuli lost three teeth (two of which ended up embedded in Gordeau’s foot), he held no regrets about his foray into MMA. This fight was not only Tuli’s introduction to a wider audience but also set a precedent for the UFC as an emerging sporting event. It remains notable for being the first fight broadcast by the promotion and for featuring the first knockout in UFC history.

Tuli’s Legacy in Acting

After his brief MMA career, Tuli turned his talents to acting, where he achieved considerable success. He is perhaps best known for his role as Kamekona in over 170 episodes of the rebooted Hawaii Five-0 series. His charisma and larger-than-life personality made him a beloved figure on the show. Tuli’s acting credits also include appearances in the Magnum P.I. reboot and the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where he acted alongside Jason Segel and Mila Kunis.

A Lasting Impact

In November, during the UFC’s 30th-anniversary celebration of UFC 1, Tuli was reunited with fellow UFC Hall of Famers and original fighters, marking a poignant moment in the sport’s history. Now, following his passing, only five participants from the original UFC 1 tournament remain.

Teila Tuli’s death marks the end of an era for both the sports and entertainment industries. His journey from the sumo ring to the silver screen, and his ability to touch lives in multiple spheres, ensure that his legacy will be remembered and celebrated for many years to come.

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