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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019

A behind-the-scenes look at the changes in Irish MMA a year since the death of Joao Carvalho

Much has changed in the past 12 months.


ON THIS DAY last year, Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho died in Dublin as a result of injuries sustained while competing in a professional mixed martial arts bout in Dublin.

A post-mortem examination found that the 28-year-old welterweight, who had suffered a third-round TKO loss to Charlie Ward two days earlier, developed an acute subdural haemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to the head.

The tragedy has been the catalyst for significant and necessary changes to the safety standards of MMA competition in this country, which are now overseen by SAFE MMA Ireland, an independent medical advisory body.

For example, pre-fight scans — MRI and MRA for professionals, MRI only for amateurs — are now mandatory for all fighters competing in mixed martial arts in Ireland in order for them to receive SAFE MMA approval. Non-SAFE MMA promotions haven’t yet been outlawed, although it’s understood that none are currently active.

Furthermore, the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association [IMMAA] is currently working to be recognised as the Irish governing body for mixed martial arts by Sport Ireland.

At the recent Cage Warriors 81 event at Dublin’s 3Arena, we had a look at what has changed for Irish MMA with the assistance of Code Blue’s Glenn Ellis, who believes that there’s now nowhere safer in the world than Ireland when it comes to competing in a mixed martial arts bout, as long as it is overseen by SAFE MMA.

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Paul Dollery

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