The death of an MMA fighter in Dublin could spell the end for MMA in the home country of Conor McGregor.
An Irish inquest has heard that an acute subdural haemorrhage following “blunt force trauma to the head” was responsible for the shocking death of fighter Joao Carvalho earlier this year.
The Team Nobrega man was pronounced dead in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Ireland on April 11th, having taken ill following a TKO loss to UFC fighter Charlie Ward in their Total Extreme Fighting bout two days prior.
Fierce debate regarding fighter safety has ensued, with many calling for a flat-out ban of Mixed Martial Arts in Ireland.
Two investigations have been initiated by An Garda Siochana (The Irish police force) and the Health and Safety Authority. The former have have submitted a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), according to Detective Inspector Paul Cleary (via Breakingnews.ie):
“An Garda Siochana have prepared a file and it has been submitted to the DPP…criminal proceedings are being contemplated,” DI Cleary told the court.
“The HSA have carried out a separate investigation.”
The target of such proceedings is unclear, but further information is expected to be disclosed at a later date. The coroner, Dr Myra Cullinane, has adjourned the inquest until June 2017.
The MMA fighter’s death has certainly polarised opinion in Ireland. Fierce debate regarding the safety of fighters competing in the octagon has seen calls for tougher regulation. The Irish Martial Arts Commission have rejected association with MMA, and refuse to recognise it as a sport due to it’s full-contact status, which further complicates matters.
Medical attention given to fighters, and stricter demands from referees are hot topics in this debate. While doctors clearly followed protocol in Carvalho v Ward, questions were asked of the refereeing standards during the fight. A view towards regulation appears the only way to safeguard the future of both competitors, and the sport in Ireland.
Some are of the opinion that MMA should be banned outright, however, with neurology professor Dr Tim Lynch stating in The Irish Times:
“Any sport that involves deliberately hitting the head and knocking people out needs to be asked questions, and we need to ask whether this is right. So from a personal perspective, yes, I think those types of sports should not be allowed.”
“I would have similar concerns about boxing. MMA goes a step up. I find it bizarre that it’s tolerated and doesn’t have a very critical review and discussion as to whether this should be encouraged, allowed, endorsed, and is regulation enough or should it be banned.”
Martin Samuel, writer at The Daily Mail stated that [Carvalho’s death] was “an absolute scandal” and that he was “legally beaten to death in public”. Samuel represents the opinion that the sport “lacks credibility”.
With further pressure put on the Irish government to intervene in a shutdown of the sport, the country’s place at the table of UFC & Bellator et al would be in danger. Furthermore, it will effectively discredit the achievements of Ireland’s mega-star, and most famous sportsman of all time. Earlier this year, France voted to ban MMA, so there is a distinct possibility that the Emerald Isle could follow suit.
What this would mean for the likes of Conor McGregor, SBG and Charlie Ward remains to be seen. It is looking almost certain that Mixed Martial Arts in its existing carnation could be on borrowed time for the “Fighting Irish” at home, however…