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'My family is waiting for answers,' brother of tragic MMA fighter tels Miriam O'Callaghan

Alex Silvestre speaks in the first interview since his brother Joao Carvalho's death (PHOTO: RTE Primetime)
Alex Silvestre speaks in the first interview since his brother Joao Carvalho's death (PHOTO: RTE Primetime)
Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho (on right) during his bout with Charlie Ward. Photo: Dave Fogarty

Ciara Tracey and Luke Byrne

The brother of Joao Carvalho has said Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters need more protection after the Portuguese man's death last week.

Alex Silvestre said his family was still waiting for answers nine days after the Total Extreme Fighting (TEF) event at the National Stadium which led to his brother's death.

The 28-year-old died on April 11 following a bout with Charlie Ward, in which he received nine punches to the head before the referee intervened to stop the fight. Ward is trained by UFC champion Conor McGregor's coach John Kavanagh.

Speaking on RTÉ's 'Prime Time' last night, Mr Silvestre said he did not think MMA should be banned following his brother's death but warned that fighters need extra protection.

"It's nothing about the sport," he said. "It's about who cares about this sport, the fighters need more protection because… all sports is danger (sic).

"If you drive the Formula 1 car at 300 miles per hour, it is too dangerous."

He said Carvalho had always dreamt of fighting and that MMA had been his brother's life.

Mr Silvestre said his family needed answers. "It's nine days passed and I want some answers, you know, I need it.

"I want to go home and take my brother with me, to give rest to him and everyone."

Mr Silvestre's appeal was broadcast on RTÉ shortly after McGregor hinted at the possibility of retiring.

McGregor (27), who is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight champion, took to social media to make an announcement last night.

"I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese [money]. Catch ya's later," he posted on Twitter.

Following the tweet, his coach Kavanagh also took to Twitter, adding fuel to speculation that McGregor may not fight again. "Well was fun while it lasted," Kavanagh, who is with McGregor in Iceland, wrote.

Requests for comment from McGregor's spokesperson went unanswered.

Speaking after the fight involving Carvalho, McGregor said he believed the referee could have stopped the bout sooner.

McGregor's teammate Charlie Ward was Carvalho's opponent at the TEF event at the National Stadium on April 9.

Mr Silvestre said he knew there was something wrong with his brother on the night after watching the fight at his home in the UK.

"I am very worried when the referee stopped the fight, because I saw my brother on the floor," he said.

Mr Silvestre said he texted Carvalho a few minutes before the fight and again after the fight. He recalled how Joao's coach phoned him to put the Irish doctor on.

He flew immediately from Britain to Dublin and recalled that the doctors at Beaumont Hospital told him "its very, very, very serious damage".

"When I see my brother on his bed, I know it's very serious."

Irish Independent

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