First bout since fighter's tragic death cancelled
An MMA event in Dublin was cancelled on Friday less than an hour before it was due to take place after questions arose over insurance for the event.
The setback for the sport comes less than five days after a Portuguese MMA fighter tragically died following a bout in the National Stadium last Saturday and raises questions over the capability for the sport to hold future events in Ireland.
Joao Carvalho was struck nine times to the head in a three-round TKO with Irish fighter Charlie Ward at a Total Extreme Fighting event.
Mr Carvalho was taken to Beaumont Hospital but succumbed to his injuries late on Monday night.
The World Cage Fighting Championship show, due to take place at The Wright Venue in Swords, was called off as hundreds of punters arrived at the venue at 5pm.
Organiser Pawel Tomczyk told the Irish Independent the insurance company pulled out of the event, saying that it could be dangerous, while a statement at the entrance to The Wright Venue said: "The adequate public liability insurance was not provided and therefore The Wright Venue, for insurance and legal purposes, could not allow this event to go ahead."
Mr Tomczyk said he was told his insurance policy for the event was cancelled at 3pm on Friday.
"The same insurance company has handled all of our previous shows but they said that a show like this is a high risk at the moment - and they let us know exactly two hours before doors opened for the show," he added.
He said they will be looking into the possibility of organising insurance with a bigger company in the UK ahead of the rescheduled event, which is due to take place at the same venue on May 20.
A portion of the profits made at the event were set to go towards the repatriation of Mr Carvalho's body back to Portugal. Mr Tomczyk said he had spoken to Mr Carvalho's family earlier this week and had been given their blessing to go ahead with the fight.
Having spoken to the family since the cancellation, he said they are very disappointed with the outcome.
"Joao's brother said he was a warrior and would not have wanted any show to be cancelled because, if he was alive, he would have come to the fight," Mr Tomczyk said.
Show organisers had arranged for full medical support for the event.
Mr Tomczyk said he complied with all medical requirements and there was no question over the safety precautions which had been organised.
He said these included having an ambulance, doctors, eight paramedics, defibrillators and two medical rooms in readiness.
While the cancellation could be a major setback for future Irish events, Mr Tomczyk said that mixed martial arts will not be broken by the tragic death of Mr Carvalho.
"We did things very, very carefully and we were very, very focused," he said.
"Everybody is looking for bad things to say about mixed martial arts. We love this sport. Accidents can happen, but they cannot break mixed martial arts in this country.
"We have to show we are not animals fighting in a cage, we are just normal. We are training guys with discipline and honour," he added.
The cost of tickets for the event is being refunded.