Michigan currently regulates professional MMA, but not amateur. Given that there are far, far more amateur than professional fights, and that amateurs, being amateur, are more vulnerable to unscrupulous promoters, the need for Regulation at all levels is pressing.
Nowhere have there been a greater number of reports of problems with amateur fights than in Michigan. In fact, the State of Michigan has so egregiously failed to adequately regulate amateur Mixed Martial Arts that the Association of Boxing Commissions last year took the unprecedented step of asking the member commissions to bar amateur Michigan fighters, or those who have recently competed in Michigan.
In Michigan, pre-fight screenings for amateur MMA fighters are minimal or non-existent, as all safety regulations are left entirely at the discretion of the promter. Fighters under 18 can compete. There are no extra medical requirements for fighters 35 and over. No ringside physician is required, or even an ambulance.
Last month a Michigan state house committee held a meeting to address the regulation of amateur fighters. A similar bill passed the state house in the last legislative session, but died in the state senate.
For years there have been warnings that the woeful state of regulation was jeopardising the health and safety of fighters.
And now one of them has died. Felix Elochukwu Nchikwo, a 35-year-old Nigerian living in Hamilton, Ontario, on a student visa died Saturday following his participation in an unregulated amateur MMA bout in Michigan.
The event was put on by the Amateur Fighting Club, who posted the following statement on their Facebook page.
“Last night’s event, April 6th, we lost a member of our MMA family and we would like to take this time to honor him. This is a tragic turn of events. We will keep his family and friends in our prayers and we ask you to do the same. May God be with them in this devastating time of loss. To us, this tragedy will not end today. He will remain in our hearts and on our minds. Further information will be posted at a later time.
'Showdown' Joe Ferraro has the story.
Pablo Elochukwu, who recently moved to Ontario in 2012, was apparently very excited to compete in his first MMA bout. Unfortunately, it would be his last.
The heavyweight, who sources say weighed 265 pounds for his MMA debut on Friday and was also a three-time gold-medal winner on the local grappling circuit, was competing in an unsanctioned event in Port Huron, Mich. According to sources, neither he nor his opponent was required to undergo pre-fight medicals for their bout.
The first two rounds were said to have been mostly grappling, but the inexperienced fighters both began showcasing signs of fatigue, especially in between rounds two and three.
Sometime in the third round, Elochukwu was mounted and was not intelligently defending what were deemed to be soft hammer fists. The referee made the decision to halt the bout, potentially believing that Pablo was not going to be able to improve the position he was in.
Elochukwu appeared to be fine during the announcement of the final decision and walked away on his own accord, albeit, with some assistance to ensure the fatigued fighter could make it to a seat.
When he did sit down, those around him noticed something was wrong and offered him some orange juice, believing his blood sugar may have dropped significantly. He then fell off the chair.
Paramedics showed up within minutes and apparently revived him, but took him away to be safe... Shortly thereafter, Elochukwu passed away.
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