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Separate probes into death of cage fighter in Republic

By Ed Carty

Published 13/04/2016

Punches: Joao Carvalho
Punches: Joao Carvalho

Two investigations have been launched after a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter died following a weekend bout in Dublin.

Portugal's Joao Carvalho (28) passed away in the city's Beaumont Hospital three days after a technical knockout in a match at the National Stadium on Saturday.

He was competing in a welterweight contest against Charlie Ward and fell ill afterwards.

Ward is a member of Team SBG Ireland, the same camp as Ultimate Fighting Championship's Conor McGregor.

Charlie Ward snr, father of Carvalho's last opponent, said his son "didn't go out to kill anyone" and felt devastated.

Garda are investigating the death, and a file will be prepared for Dublin Coroner's Court. The Health and Safety Authority has also begun a preliminary probe.

A post-mortem examination has been scheduled for today.

Carvalho suffered numerous punches to the head in the fight. He looked unsteady on his feet before Ward landed the punch that made him collapse.

Medical personnel for the bout, speaking while Carvalho was still in hospital over the weekend, said he was smiling and appeared fine immediately afterwards.

However, 20 minutes later he vomited, complained of headaches and said he was nauseous.

He was admitted to Dublin's Beaumont Hospital and had surgery for brain bleed.

In an RTE interview with Joe Duffy, Mr Ward's father said his son told him he had been pulling punches in the final round.

"Charles told me there was no way he was hitting him hard as he knew he had him beat," Mr Ward said. "He said a child would have took them (the punches).

"He didn't go out to kill anyone. He went out to win his fight, but the referee could have been a bit quicker as far as I'm concerned."

In a statement last night McGregor said: "Nobody involved in combat sports of any kind wants to see this. It is such a rare occurrence that I don't know how to take this.

"I was ringside supporting my team-mate, and the fight was so back and forth that I just can't understand it."

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