Ever since Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho died in Beaumont hospital last April, roughly 48 hours after being TKO’ed by SBG’s Charlie Ward at an event in Dublin, senior members of the Irish MMA community have worked tirelessly to reduce the chances of such an incident ever happening again.
A month or so after the tragedy, a national governing body for MMA was set up – the IMMAA – with SBG Ireland founder John Kavanagh as president and it subsequently began working with non-profit organisation Safe MMA to improve safety standards.
As a result of this relationship, brain scans were made mandatory for all professional fighters competing in the country.
Over the weekend, this measure may well have saved English fighter Craig Powell’s life.
The Colchester native, 1-1 as a professional, was due to face Hughie O’Rourke at the 3Arena in Dublin as part of Cage Warriors 81, but he was pulled from the card only hours in advance when a brain scan showed a large cyst at the front of his brain.
Powell, who has been told he can never compete again, posted a shot of the scan on his Instagram, along with a message in which he thanked Safe MMA for their work and tried to describe his own conflicted feelings.
“Thanks for all the messages everyone, i really do appreciate it,” wrote Powell. “Those people who know me well know, sparring and fighting is me… its what I do and what i live for. After being told by a specialist there is no way i can compete again or even spar I just don’t know what to do or say… feels like a bad dream. Just need to get home to my wife and little boy.
“Im so greatful(sic) that it was found by the scans from the Safe MMA Team. The picture shows the cyst which is bigger than is bigger than a golf ball in the front of brain… makes me feel sick to think about…
“Im going to have some time out. Huge thanks to Jack, Jez, Wendy, Cory and JR… and Ian Dean for letting me cry all over him”
Below is a screenshot of the post as tweeted out by Andrew McGahon of TheMacLife
In December of last year, the IMMAA, based on the advice of Safe MMA, recommended that amateur fighters also undergo a one-off MRI brain scan before competing. The Cage Legacy event that took place on February 11th was used as a test to “examine the affordability and practicality” of this measure.
A couple of days after the event, Barry Oglesby, IMMAA’s Sport Liaison Officer for Sport Ireland, told Peter Carroll of Newstalk that it had been a “great success”.