Fatalities in MMA: 1993 – present
Rest in peace Douglas Dedge, Lee, Sam Vasquez, Michael Kirkham, Mike Mittelmeier, Dustin Jenson, Tyrone Mims, Felix Elochukwu Nchikwo.
Playing sports can be dangerous.
Seven athletes have died from injuries sustained while competing in the Olympics – one runner, one cyclist, a boxer, one speed skater, one downhill skier, and two lugers.
Boxing has recorded nearly 1,500 deaths since it’s inception in the 1700s.
Auto racing has killed countess drivers, and spectators are not immune. A single accident in 1955 killed approximately 60 spectators, and the driver.
28 people are beiieved to have died running, in marathons alone, in the USA alone, just from 2000-2009.
In 2005, four runners died, in a single event, the Great North Run half marathon in the UK.
Cheerleading killed 42 between the fall of 1982 and the spring of 2007.
Mixed martial arts is not immune. Below is a list of the eight people believed to have died from injuries sustained during MMA competitions from 1993 to the present.
Douglas Dedge • March 16, 1998 • Kiev, Ukraine • Unregulated • Chief emergency room doctor attributed death to “severe brain injuries.” • First MMA death in the modern era. • Dedge is reported to have passed out in training previous to the fight, and is believed to have had a preexisting medical condition.
Korean identified only as Lee • May 12, 2005 • Samsong-dong, South Korea • Entirely unregulated bout took place in a bar. • Cause of death was heart attack.
Sam Vasquez • October 20, 2007 • Houston Texas • Cause of death was subdural hemorrhage due to blunt trauma of the head, following a KO loss in the third round • First death in a sanctioned MMA event.
Michael Kirkham • June 26, 2010 • Aiken, South Carolina • Regulated bout • Cause of death was subarachnoid hemorrhage of the brain • Kirkham lost his previous fight on April 24 by TKO; Dr. Joe Estwanik believes “this could have been second-impact syndrome.”
Mike Mittelmeier • April 27, 2012 • Bolivia • Unregulated bout allowing face kicks to grounded opponent; there was no ambulnace standing by. • Mittlemeier got kicked in the head while attempting a leg lock. • Cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage.
Dustin Jenson • May 24, 2012 • Rapid City, South Dakota • Unregulated bout • Jenson tapped without appearing to take any severe blows. • Caue of death was subdural hemorrhage resulting from blunt force trauma to the head.
Tyrone Mims • August 11, 2012 • Mount Pleasant, South Carolina • Regulated bout • Autopsy results were inconclusive, with no evidence of a concussion or brain trauma detected, no drugs or alcohol detected by toxicology tests. “(Mims) might have had an irregular heart because of some electrical dysfunction,” said Coroner Rae Wooten. “That obviously isn’t seen after death. Once that’s completed, there’s no evidence of that…. There’s just nothing here that explains his death.”
Felix Elochukwu Nchikwo, fought under the name Felix Pablo Elochukwu • April 7th, 2013 • Port Huron, Michigan • Unregulated bout • According to the Michigan coroner’s office, there is “no evidence” that the fighter died from trauma he sustained during an unregulated mixed martial arts match. Full report is due in several weeks.
There are going to be more deaths in mixed martial arts.
MMA competition can, like countless other sports, lead to fatality. As such, safety precautions must be adhered to rigorously. Promoters cannot be counted on to take standard precautions like blood tests, pre-fight physicals, a ringside doctor, and ambulance standing by. Fighters and trainers in the USA and Canada have a responsibility to avoid unregulated MMA bouts, and States must make regulation or sanctioning mandatory, most notably for amateur fighters, who are easily exploited.