Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho dies in Dublin

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho has died due to injuries sustained in a fight with Charlie 'The Hospital' Ward at Total Extreme Fighting 1 in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday night. Carvalho lost via TKO in Round 3. 

The awful news came was posted by Carvalho's coach, Vitor Nóbrega, on his social network. Nóbrega is the MMA pioneer in Portugal.

Death note
The Nobrega team confirms the passing of the athlete athlete João Carvalho, which occurred last night (Monday) in Beaumont hospital, in Dublin, at 9:35 p.m. It is with great sorrow and sadness that we write these words – the death of the athlete João Carvalho happened after 48 hours in critical condition.

During the event, Tef MMA, which took place on Saturday, at the National Boxing Stadium in Dublin, they were complied with all the safety rules, and after a fight where the arbitration followed all the correct procedures and regulars. The athlete felt bad, about 20 minutes after the end of the fight.

He was immediately assisted by the medical team, and then quickly transported to Beaumont hospital, where he was subjected to a brain surgical intervention, after which the athlete remained in critical condition during the 48 hours following, eventually passing away on this Monday the 21:35 hours.

Despite the continued monitoring of the doctor who was part of the event organizers, and the hospital, the Irish who we appreciate all the support in these difficult times, and although the risks of this sport are known, the passing of John Carvalho, in my professional point of view, was a great deal of misery, which makes it deeply sad and dismaying, both for the family, and the whole Team Nóbrega team, who always accompanied João Carvalho throughout his career, in which he was highlighting the national and international level.

It is with great regret that we offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and the whole Team Nobrega.

TEF CEO Cesar Silva released a statement on the event website. 

The TEF Team is deeply saddened by the news of João Carvalho’s death. Last night 11th of April, mixed martial artist João Carvalho passed away after 2 days of the best medical care and treatment in Beaumont Hospital following his three round TKO stoppage defeat on Saturday 9th April at the National Stadium in Dublin.

Following the referee stoppage João, who was representing Portuguese club Team Nobrega, was assessed by doctors and medical staff at the onsite medical office as per normal procedure. It was determined that he should be sent to hospital. In hospital he received emergency treatment and transferred to ICU later that evening. Formal hospital medical reports and procedures are still being carried out.  João was 28 years of age.

Both fighters were 1-1 at the time of the fight, and it did not appear to be a gross mismatch. Although there is no regulatory body in Ireland for MMA, the event followed the guidelines set by SAFE MMA, a UK-based non-profit that handles medical regulation. There were three doctors and paramedics present.

Conor McGregor was cageside watching his SBG-Ireland teammate. In an interview with MMA Connect TV, conducted before the fighter became ill, McGregor said he thought it could be been stopped earlier.

“My teammate Charlie had a good win just there – hell of a fight,” said McGregor, as transcribed by PunditArena.com. “Your man took some big shots. Thought it could have been stopped a little earlier. I feel these referee’s need to be on the ball a little bit.”

“To see the way it’s all progressed, the regulations and everything – all the medical staff and everything. It’s proper now. To see this is great.”

Mixed martial arts is a combat sport and combat sports can be dangerous, even when reasonable precautions have been taken. Our hearts go out to the family, team, and friends of Joao Carvalho.

Every death of an athlete is an extraordinary tragedy. And too, the danger in mixed martial arts has to be viewed within the larger context of death in sports.

American high school football is dangerous. Eleven high school football players died in 2015 alone. 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 its 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. 110 school children in Japan died playing Judo in the last 30 years, and hundreds have suffered catastrophic injury.

28 people are believed to have died running, in marathons alone, in the USA alone, from 2000-2009. In 2005, four runners died, in a single event, the Great North Run half marathon in the UK.

Cheerleading in the USA killed 42 between the fall of 1982 and the spring of 2007.

Mixed martial arts is not immune. Eleven people are now 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 ambulance standing by. • Mittlemeier got kicked in the head while attempting a leg lock, illegal under the Unified Rules. • 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. • Cause 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. 

Booto Guylain • 24 June 1984 – 5 March 2014 • Johannesburg, South Africa • Unregulated bout • Death was a result of complications related to the swelling of the brain.

Ramin Zeynalov • 29 March 2015 • Azerbaijan • Unregulated bout • Death was a result of brain hemorrhage.

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. There will undoubtedly be an investigation, that can come to a conclusive investigation, but at the outset, it can be said that TEF appeared to be promoting responsibly in terms of fighter safety.