João ‘Rafeiro’ Carvalho.jpg

Portuguese martial arts ace dies after Dublin fight

A Portuguese martial arts ace died yesterday (April 11) after suffering serious head injuries in a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event in Dublin.

João ‘Rafeiro’ Carvalho, 28, had been in serious condition since last Saturday, when he suffered a technical knockout to Irish opponent Charlie Ward during Total Extreme Fighting (TEF) 1 at the city’s National Stadium.

Carvalho became unwell around 20 minutes after the fight and had to be rushed to hospital, where he underwent emergency brain surgery.

His death was confirmed on Facebook on Monday night by his Lisbon-based team, Nóbrega, which said it was “deeply saddened” by the news.

A video of the fatal knockout shows Carvalho taking several blows to the head before the referee steps in to end the fight.

This happens a lot in MMA fights, however, and his team said that “all security rules were obeyed”.

“There weren’t any kinds of errors or wrong calls by the referee,” Nóbrega Team guaranteed. “If there had been, we would have stepped in.”

The team added that Carvalho had been gaining a reputation on the national and international fighting scene.

Reacting to the news, TEF CEO César Silva said “we will give whatever support we can to João’s family”.

John Kavanagh, coach of Carvalho’s opponent Charlie Ward, also expressed his condolences and added he and his team would collaborate in any probe into the death.

Boxer is “shocked, but not surprised”
Meantime, former Irish Olympic boxer Mick Dowling has said he is “shocked but not surprised” by the news.

Talking on Irish radio show ‘Newstalk Lunchtime’, he said: “I have to say I was always holding my breath as to when this would happen in MMA.

“It’s a tough sport. It’s a hard sport … only the tough guys can go into it. There is this risk of serious injury. Unfortunately, for this young fighter it has happened to him.”

Dowling believes the size of the gloves used in MMA adds to the risks.

“When you get an accumulation of a lot of punches to the head – and I know the MMA fighters say; ‘we don’t take as many punches as boxers do’, that may be the case, but they take punches and elbows as well to the head with very little protection on their hands.

“They are so small and they are so hard. I often look at them and say: ‘Wow, I would not like to be getting hit with that glove’.

“At least in boxing, both amateur and professional, you have a minimum of eight ounce and probably more likely 10 or 12 ounce gloves.

“There is very little padding in MMA gloves.”

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