Thankfully it’s still extremely rare to hear of fighters dying due to injuries sustained in sanctioned MMA bouts, but the death of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho served as a gut-wrenching reminder that it can still happen.
The 28 year-old had only turned professional a year earlier and held a 1-1 record heading into his fight with Charlie Ward at Total Extreme Fighting 1 in Dublin, Ireland on April 11th.
Ward was a team-mate of UFC superstar Conor McGregor, who was in the crowd cheering him on that night as he handed Carvalho a one-sided beating that ended by TKO in the third round.
Immediately after the fight there was no obvious sign that Carvalho’s life was in danger as he walked backstage with his team to undergo a brief medical examination, but things took a dramatic turn for the worse around 20 minutes after the bout when he started complaining of a headache and began vomiting.
Carvalho was rushed to hospital, but died two days later, with an inquest later establishing that the cause of death was ‘acute subdural haemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to the head.’
The fighter’s death was reported worldwide, but was particularly big news in Ireland, where some critics called for the sport to be banned, while Conor McGregor admitted that he was haunted by the fighters death.
At the time of writing the potential for criminal proceedings to be undertaken in relation to the incident are still under consideration.