Portuguese mixed martial artist Joao Carvalho has died in the hospital following injuries he sustained in an MMA bout in Dublin this weekend.
Vitor Nobrega of Carvalho’s “Nobrega Team” confirmed that the fighter has died after 48 hours in critical condition in a heartbroken statement released on Facebook earlier today.
“The Nobrega team confirms the passing of our athlete Joao Carvalho,” wrote Nobrega in Portuguese, “which occurred last night in Beaumont hospital, in Dublin, at 21:35 hours. It is with great sorrow and sadness that we write these words, that the death of the athlete João Carvalho happened after 48 hours in critical condition.”
According to Nobrega, Carvalho reported feeling bad “about twenty minutes after” his third-round technical knockout loss to his opponent Charlie Ward in the inaugural Total Extreme Fighting event at the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday. He was then immediately attended by cageside doctors, who determined that he should be hospitalized and had him transported promptly to Beaumont Hospital.
“It was deeply saddening and dismaying,” said Carvalho, “both for his family, as well as the whole Team Nóbrega team, who always accompanied Joao Carvalho throughout his career, in which he competed at the national and international level.”
“It is with great regret that we offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and the whole Nobrega team,” the post concluded.
Many fighters and figures involved in mixed martial arts have reached out from around the world to express grief and condolences for the loss of the fighter’s life and for his mourning loved ones. Top referee for the sport’s premier promotion the Ultimate Fighting Championship released a heartfelt statement in which he offered condolences, not just to Carvalho’s family but to “the young man’s opposition on Saturday night, the referee, the promoter, the medical staff and all of those directly touched and [affected] by this tragedy”.
Goddard, who has himself competed in MMA as a heavyweight and who also helped spearhead the SAFE MMA Project, not only reached out after the fighter’s death but sent out a tweet while Carvalho was still alive in critical condition pleading with him to “please please pull through.”
The job of the referee is extremely important in mixed martial arts due to the violent and unpredictable nature of the sport, which can change on a dime from striking to clinching to grappling on the ground, and it’s critical that referees be able to intervene before a fighter sustains strikes on the ground when he’s unconscious or unable to defend himself.
In the same Facebook post, Goddard also vehemently decried the opposition he and his allies have faced in trying to make the sport safer in the UK, and how “pre fight and out of competition health checks and blood tests for what was a comparative paltry sum of money and this was being fought off, short cut and opposed by many – and now look, now look at the consequences we are left with.”
Carvalho’s opponent is a training partner of UFC Featherweight champion Conor McGregor, who also had some choice words to say about the fight and Carvalho’s consequent injuries.
“My teammate Charlie had a good win just there. Hell of a fight. Yer man took some big shots. Thought it could have been stopped a little earlier,” said McGregor, never one to shy away from controversy. “I feel these referee’s need to be on the ball a little bit.”
McGregor did, however, voice appreciation for the cageside medical staff.
“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.”
[Photo by Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images for Reebok]