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One Year On From Joao Carvalho’s Death: Ireland The ‘Safest Country In The World’ For MMA

A consultant neurologist from the hospital in which Joao Carvalho died this time last year has claimed that Ireland is the safest country in the world to compete in mixed martial arts. 

A year on from the tragic death of the Portuguese MMA fighter, who died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head after fighting Charlie Ward of SBG Ireland at a Total Extreme Fighting event in Dublin, the campaign to have MMA recognised in Ireland continues.

Professor Dan Healy, who works in Beaumont Hospital where Carvalho passed away, has claimed that for the progress that has been made in legitimising the sport on these shores in recent years to continue, Sport Ireland must give MMA official recognition.

Prof. Healy is a co-founder of SafeMMA, a voluntary non-profit organisation. SafeMMA sign off on the safety regulations and standards of MMA events in Ireland and the UK, with the promoters who run the events using their word as an effective seal of approval.

SafeMMA was founded in 2012 and every MMA fight to have taken place in Ireland since Carvalho lost his life has been signed off by the body.

Talks with Sport Ireland have been ongoing recently as the campaign to gain MMA official recognition as a sport continues. Legendary coach John Kavanagh along with MMA advocate and former fighter out of Kavanagh and Conor McGregor’s SBG gym Aisling Daly are leading voices in the efforts to have MMA acknowledged and finally receive the recognition it deserves.

Healy is of the opinion that serious strides have been taken but there is still a lot of ground left to make up in the attempts to have safety in MMA guaranteed going forward. At present, no MMA promoter is obligated to receive a seal of approval from SafeMMA if they are to run an event in Ireland.

Speaking to the Irish Times, professor Healy expressed his views:

“I believe the standards that have been put in place in Ireland and that have been adopted by the MMA community have made it the safest country in the world to take part in this sport. This is not all down to SafeMMA. It would not have worked if it had been imposed on the sport. This works because the community itself embraced it.

“I want to be clear on the purpose of it all. Anyone who says MMA is a safe sport hasn’t seen MMA. It is not a safe sport – there are dangers with it, as there are with a lot of sports. The purpose of the pre-clearance SafeMMA standards is to minimise avoidable risk. It’s so that we don’t have a situation where we have someone who shouldn’t have been fighting and we only find out after the fact. The safety protocols are so that we know in advance.

“Once a fighter goes down, it’s a frightening thing that happens. Suddenly they are maybe seizing in the ring or they are unconscious. They need everything done for them, they need stretchers, they need oxygen. They need a tube put down to control their breathing.

“You need to make sure there are ambulances there, that they know their route, that there’s nothing blocking them, that Beaumont knows they are coming, that they can go straight into theatre. Every second counts in that situation and those pathways require a lot of planning in advance. Among other things, all of that is happening now.”

On the recognition of mixed martial arts, Healy reckons the sooner the key figures in high places eventually recognise the sport, the better the safety regulations will become. This will assist in the reduction of more unfortunate cases such as the death of Carvalho, which sent shockwaves around the sport’s community, particularly in Ireland.

“Recognition would bring advantages for the sport in the shape of grants that might be used to take over what SafeMMA has been doing.

“That’s what I would like to see happen in the long run – relying on a volunteer project like this is not sustainable.”

Aaron Ward, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.