The world of mixed martial arts has been plunged into mourning with the news that Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho has died from injuries sustained at an event in Dublin.
Carvalho had been fighting for his life at Beaumount Hospital since Saturday night after he suffered a technical knockout loss to Charlie Ward in a welterweight contest at Total Extreme Fighting 1 at the National Stadium.
The fighter's Nóbrega team confirmed the tragic news on their Facebook account, saying that they were 'deeply saddened and dismayed' by the news.
They say that Carvalho fell ill 20 minutes after his fight had concluded, was attended to by on-site medical staff and was rushed to Beaumont.
He underwent a procedure on his brain but the 28-year-old succumbed to his injuries at 9.35pm last night.
The statement added that Carvalho was gaining recognition on both a “national and international level”, having fought with the Nobrega team throughout his career.
In a statement today, TEF CEO Cesar Silva said: “We extend our most sincere condolences to the family of João Carvalho’s and his teammates in Team Nobrega. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We’d also like to thank all sports fans for their concern and support.
“We will give whatever support we can to Joao’s family. We have been in contact with his family and they have requested that we all understand their need for privacy at this difficult time.”
Charlie Ward is a member of Conor McGregor's Team SBG Ireland and was cornered by coach John Kavanagh for the fight in question.
Kavanagh took to social media this afternoon to say that he and his team would participate in any probe into the death and asked the privacy of the Carvalho family be respected.
He wrote: "It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho. On Saturday, April 9, the fighter suffered a medical issue following his three round TKO stoppage loss at a Total Extreme Fighting (TEF) Championship event at the National Stadium in Dublin Ireland.
"IAPA is working diligently with TEF to gather and evaluate all relevant facts and event processes and will participate in any investigation. Our condolences and thoughts, though, are with Joao’s family and friends and we kindly ask everyone to respect their privacy at this time."
McGregor, who was present at the event, said in an interview before today's tragic news that the contest could have been stopped earlier.
He told MMA Connect TV: “My teammate Charlie had a good win just there.
“It was a hell of a fight. Your man [Carvalho] took some big shots.
“I thought it could have been stopped maybe earlier.”
Speaking on Newstalk Lunchtime, former Irish Olympic boxer Mick Dowling claimed he wasn't surprised when he heard the news of Joao Carvalho's passing.
"I am shocked, but at the same time I am not terribly surprised. 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," he said.
"I don't know everything about MMA fighting. What I do know and what I've seen from it, it's a hard, tough sport. It's only the tough guys that can go into it. There is this risk of serious injury. Unfortunately for this young fighter it has happened to him."
Dowling believes that the size of the gloves used in MMA in adding to the risk involved.
"When you get an accumulation of a lot of punches to the head, and I know the MMA fighters say; 'we dont take 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," he added.
"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 ten or 12 ounce gloves. There is very little padding in MMA gloves."
More to follow
Tributes and messages of condolence have been flooding in on social media:
Just heard the awful news that Joao Carvalho has passed away. Thoughts are with his family and team.— Laurence Kinlan (@laurencekinlan) April 12, 2016
R.I.P. Joao Carvalho, sympathies to his family and his team. Desperately sad situation.— collie ennis (@collieennis) April 12, 2016
RIP Joao Carvalho, a man shouldn't die competing in the sport he loves.— Cormac Byrne (@CMacByrne) April 12, 2016
Very sad news about Joao Carvalho, the fighter who died in hospital after his fight on Saturday night! #RIPJOAOCARVALHO— My Name is Stephen (@deodevine) April 12, 2016
Absolutely tragic news hearing about Joao Carvalho's passing after TEF1 on Sat. Thoughts with his family, friends & Charlie Ward #RIP— Donnacha McCormack (@dunta90) April 12, 2016
#RIP Joao Carvalho, very sad news— Shane Monahan (@themainmanmono) April 12, 2016
absolutely heartbreaking. Thoughts are with his family, friends, and team. Very sad R.I.P Joao Carvalho https://t.co/2HG9lm8da0— Paul Redmond (@RedserMma) April 12, 2016
UFC champion Conor McGregor believes officials could have stepped in sooner to end a bout that left a Portuguese MMA fighter in a critical condition after he suffered a knock-out blow during an event in Dublin.
SBG Ireland head coach John Kavanagh has expressed his sadness and concern for the Portuguese fighter currently in critical condition after suffering a technical knockout loss at an MMA event in Dublin over the weekend.