João Carvalho: Investigation Of Death Of Portuguese Fighter Sparks Talks Of Banning MMA In Ireland

On April 9, Portuguese fighter João Carvalho participated in his third professional fight in his MMA career held in Dublin, Ireland. It was very important for him because prior to the fight, Carvalho was even at one TKO loss by doctor stoppage against Arlindo Prates at IPC7, and one TKO win by punches against Hugo Peixoto at IPC8. Needless to say, Carvalho was aiming to initiate a winning streak after last year’s victory.

The aforementioned task was a tough challenge for João Carvalho because he was set to fight Charlie Ward, a fellow teammate of UFC star Conor McGregor at the event organized by Irish MMA promotion Total Extreme Fighting. Carvalho came up short as he was defeated by TKO in the third round (shown in the attached video above), as reported by Sherdog.

“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.”

On Tuesday, April 12, Vitor Nobrega, João Carvalho’s coach, released a statement that Carvalho had passed away from his injuries the day before. Today, an investigation into Carvalho’s death has been initiated, but this has also sparked talks about banning MMA in Ireland.

The news about the investigation was reported by Sports News Ireland, and the report said that three different parties are investigating. One investigation will be done by the Gardaí, the second by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), and the final investigation will be by acting Sports Minister, Michael Ring. All three are to carry out a detailed examination of how the MMA and their associated organizations are regulated.

All three parties provided similar press statements to João Carvalho’s death as a “foreign man dying participating in a sport in their country,” but Michael Ring had more concerns pertaining to Irish MMA not coming under the Irish Sports Council’s remit.

“On the 20th of February 2014, before this event ever happened at all, I wrote to 17 organisations and these were commercial operators that were running for-profit events in Ireland. I wrote to the 17 of them and I outlined to them that I expected the same kind of safety standards that existed for other sports such as rugby, horse racing and professional boxing.”

“I am concerned and I have been concerned about the growth of this sport and the way that it’s unregulated. This needs to be regulated.”

In the aftermath of João Carvalho’s death, others have come forward talking about bans of MMA in Ireland, or at least contributed to the chatter. Johnny Watterson of The Guardian, wrote an opinion piece stating that MMA’s popularity is no defense for “legal killing” and stated “there is no precedent in organized sport for the savagery of Carvalho’s beating in Dublin where the line is crossed.” Though Watterson’s piece does come off as an argument of someone who despises MMA, he is correct about the issues with the stoppage. Carvalho was hit in the head nine times prior to the TKO stoppage. It was also evidently clear Carvalho was unable to properly defend himself.

João Carvalho’s death also sparked the interest of the medical field as Professor Tim Lynch, a consultant neurologist at the Mater Hospital, claims the aim of MMA is to cause brain damage, as reported by the Irish Examiner. Lynch made his views known during The Breakfast Show on Newstalk.

“I find it abhorrent that you’d be having any sport where the point is trying to hit and knock the player out and cause brain damage. So from a personal perspective yes, because I think those kind of sports shouldn’t be allowed. Taking it from an overall scheme, could you look at it and really critically regulate it? Maybe.”

At this moment, Total Extreme Fighting, the promotion that held the event being blamed for João Carvalho’s death, is keeping their distance from the media. However, they did post their condolences to Carvalho’s family on their official website.

[Image via Total Extreme Fighting Promotions for Weigh-In]