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'With heavy heart' UFC community mourns loss of Portuguese fighter

John Kavanagh. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
John Kavanagh. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Deirdre Reynolds and Barry Lennon

The UFC community was left reeling as the "truly heartbreaking" news of Mixed Martial Arts fighter Joao Carvalho's death began to circulate.

Highly regarded UFC referee Marc Goddard said he was "devastated", while Conor McGregor's coach John Kavanagh (inset right) said it was with a "heavy heart" he mourned Carvalho's passing. Fellow MMA star Paul Redmond described Carvalho's passing as "absolutely heartbreaking".

Meanwhile, acting Minister for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring urged extreme fighting promoters to introduce "appropriate safety standards".

"I am deeply saddened by the news of the death of Joao Carvalho following an event in the National Stadium on Saturday evening.

"I extend my deepest sympathies to his family. I expect that there will now be an investigation and I do not propose to comment further until the results of that investigation are known."

Welterweight Carvalho was rushed to Beaumont Hospital after sustaining a head injury during the bout with Charlie Ward at the weekend but later lost his fight for life.

As #RIPJoaoCarvalho began trending on Twitter in the wake of the news, many expressed their condolences. 'Love/Hate' actor Laurence Kinlan paid his respects: "Just heard the awful news...Thoughts are with his family and team."

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Portugal's Ambassador to Ireland Bernardo Futscher Pereira said: "We are deeply saddened by the death of Joao and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

"We now await the results of the investigation into the circumstances of his death."

Meanwhile, a crowdfunding page had last night raised more than £1,000 for the family of the 28-year-old.

Launched by Derry pro-fighter Declan Larkin, it hopes to raise £5,000 "to help his loved ones and team bring Joao home".

Irish Independent

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