The MMA world was today hit with the tragic news of João Carvalho's death at an MMA event in Dublin.
Carvalho fought Ireland's Charlie Ward at the Total Extreme Fighting event at Dublin's National Stadium last Saturday, April 9th.
Total Extreme Fighting (TEF) are a Mixed Martial Arts promotional company, and the event in Dublin on Saturday was their very first, with the headline fight being the lightweight title bout between Luka Jelcic and Piotr Niedzielski. The undercard featured a welterweight clash between Charlie Ward of the Straight Blast Gym and João Carvalho of Team Nobrega. Ward fights out of the same gym as Conor McGregor, and shares a coach with McGregor in the form of John Kavanagh.
Ward won the fight in the third round by TKO. Initially, João Carvalho appeared to be fine in the immediate aftermath of the fight. Twenty minutes later, however, he began to feel ill, and was brought to hospital. Upon arrival to Beaumont Hospital, João Carvalho underwent emergency surgery and was left in a critical condition.
João Carvalho tragically passed away at 9.35pm on Monday, April 11th. Nobrega Team confirmed the sad news via a statement on their Facebook page. Below is a slightly rough translation of that statement into English:
The Nobrega team this way comes to confirm the passing of your athlete João Carvalho, which occurred last night in the hospital Beaumont, in Dublin, for 21:35 hours. It is with great sorrow and sadness that we write these words, that the death of the athlete João Carvalho happened after 48 hours in critical condition.
During the event-Tef MMA, which took place on Saturday, at the National Boxing Stadium in Dublin, where they were complied with all the safety rules, and after a fight where the arbitration followed all the correct procedures and regulars, the athlete began to feel bad, about 20 minutes after the end of the fight.
Still on the site, he was immediately assisted by the medical team, and then quickly transported to the hospital Beaumont, where he was subjected to a brain surgical intervention, after which the athlete remained in critical condition during the 48 hours following, eventually passed away on this Monday at 21:35 hours, despite continued monitoring by doctors who were part of the organisation of the event and the hospital.
We appreciate all the support from the Irish in these difficult times, and although they are known the risks of this sport, the passing of João Carvalho in my professional point of view causes a great deal of misery, which makes it deeply saddened and dismayed, both your family, as the whole team nóbrega team, who always accompanied the João Carvalho throughout his career, in which he was highlighting the national and international level.
It is with great regret that we offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and the whole nobrega team.
João Carvalho was subject to a full and rigorous medical protocol after the fight. The medical service on site was called Eventmed, and their owner Katarzyna Michlic told Peter Carroll of SevereMMA that they followed standard procedure:
The first round was fought at a very fast pace, and at the end of it he was bleeding from the nose.
The doctors checked him between each round and each time he gave a full response to them. He responded to each question. He was asked where he was, what round he was going in to and what day of the week it was, and all of his answers were perfect.
When the referee stopped the fight in the third round, our team of doctors and medics looked after him as he was bleeding quite heavily from his nose. He was asked if he felt any pain or was suffering with any headaches directly after the fight, and he said he had no pain or headaches, but he did feel quite tired.
It was explained to him that he had to visit the medical room that was set up in the venue and that he would have to go to the hospital afterwards, because the doctor recommended that he should have a CT scan after the fight. At this stage, the fighter was walking, talking and smiling. Everything seemed perfectly fine.
After he walked back to the medical room the doctors did some tests backstage and there was nothing out of the ordinary about their results. They prepared the ambulance to take him to the hospital.
Ten minutes later he started complaining that he was suffering from headaches. He felt a lot of nausea and he began to vomit. Five minutes later he was significantly worse so we got him into the ambulance and rang the hospital to let them know he was coming.
Both John Kavanagh and Conor McGregor were at the event. Kavanagh said he was "devastated" upon hearing the news that Carvalho was in a critical condition in hospital, saying that the fact that "there have been hundreds of thousands of contests worldwide in thousands of shows and this outcome is incredibly rare" would be no consolation to the family of João Carvalho.
McGregor admitted in an interview after the event that he believed the fight should have been stopped earlier than the third round, saying that "the referees have to be on the ball a bit".