Top UFC referee releases heartfelt statement following the death of Joao Carvalho
A top Mixed Martial Arts referee has paid tribute to Joao Carvalho after the Portuguese fighter died 48 hours after he was defeated in an MMA event at the National Stadium in Dublin.
The 28-year-old lost his fight for life in the city's Beaumont Hospital three days after a technical knockout in a match on Saturday.
He was competing in a welterweight contest against Charlie "The Hospital" Ward and had fallen ill shortly afterwards.
In a statement, organisers Total Extreme Fighting (TEF) said they are deeply saddened by the news of Mr Carvalho's death.
Referee Marc Goddard paid tribute to the tragic fighter and revealed that his thoughts were also with Ward's.
He wrote: “It is with utter sadness and a heavy heart that the news of a young man Joao Carvalho who had fought this past weekend in Ireland has lost his life following a closed head [brain] bleed. The news was reported and confirmed via the coach/team page this morning.
"First and foremost my absolute condolence and thoughts to this young mans immediate family, friends, team mates and coach. How a young man can have his life so dramatically cut short in pursuit of a hobby, a dream - a sport.
“The who’s, what’s where’s and why’s pale into insignificance right now.
“For something that I hold so close, so personal and so dear - I didn’t even know this young man but I am devastated by this news. My worst fears that statistics and time have taken their toll in the most devastating fashion. Few have remarked on me in the past - why do you get so emotional|? why do you get so involved? Some years ago now at the inaugural launch of the Safe MMA project I remember when it was my time to speak, few knew that as i talked my voice quivered a little and I fought back the lump in my throat and the reason was because of opposition - opposition to the fact that we were at the time launching something groundbreaking around athletes and fighters health and safety insisting on pre fight and out of competition health checks and blood tests for what was a comparative paltry sum of money and this was being fought off, short cut and opposed by many - and now look, now look at the consequences we are left with.”
“There is no doubt that the curtain will fall around the MMA world right now, right here on our doorstep and there will be many pieces left to pick up and put together. Their are many kind hearted people in MMA - compassionate experts who can come together. Now is the time.
“I would like to also offer a heartfelt thought to the young mans opposition on Saturday night, the referee, the promoter, the medical staff and all of those directly touched and effected by this tragedy - all too shall be left with pieces to fix back together.
“Today the MMA community mourns - right in front of us all. I am shocked and deeply, deeply saddened.
“RIP Joao Carvalho.”