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Conor McGregor: MMA fighter’s death after Dublin match is ‘heartbreaking’

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 13/04/2016 Des Bieler
Conor McGregor was seated ringside and thought the fight could have been stopped sooner. © Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images for Reebok Conor McGregor was seated ringside and thought the fight could have been stopped sooner.

Conor McGregor was at an MMA event in Dublin Saturday to cheer on a teammate from that city’s Straight Blast Gym, Charlie Ward. However, any joy the UFC featherweight champion might have taken in Ward’s victory was quickly erased by the tragic death of the loser in that match, Joao Carvalho of Portugal.

Carvalho, 28, died Monday from injuries suffered while getting knocked out by Ward. He underwent emergency brain surgery on Saturday night (per the Independent) and had remained in critical condition at a Dublin hospital.

On Tuesday, McGregor, who was seated ringside for the fight, posted a note to his Facebook page expressing his sadness over the “heartbreaking” news. He noted that deaths are a “rare occurrence” in “combat sports,” which he praised for promoting “fitness” and “mental strength.”

Here is what McGregor wrote:

“Terrible news regarding Joao Carvalho.
To see a young man doing what he loves, competing for a chance at a better life, and then to have it taken away is truly heartbreaking.
We are just men and women doing something we love in the hope of a better life for ourselves and our families. 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 teammate, and the fight was so back and forth, that I just can’t understand it.
My condolences go out to Joao’s family and his team. Their man was a hell of a fighter and will be sorely missed by all.
Combat sport is a crazy game and with the recent incident in boxing and now this in MMA, it is a sad time to be a fighter and a fight fan.
It is easy for those on the outside to criticise our way of living, but for the millions of people around the world who have had their lives, their health, their fitness and their mental strength all changed for the better through combat, this is truly a bitter pill to swallow. We have lost one of us.
I hope we remember Joao as a champion, who pursued his dream doing what he loved, and show him the eternal respect and admiration he deserves.
Rest in peace, Joao.”

Shortly after the fight, McGregor had suggested (via the Independent) that the referee could have stopped it sooner. “My teammate Charlie had a good win just there. Hell of a fight. Your man [Carvalho] took some big shots,” McGregor told MMAConnectTV. “Thought it could have been stopped a little earlier. I feel these referees need to be on the ball a little bit.”

Standard medical protocol had reportedly been followed during and after the fight, with Carvalho checked between each of the three rounds. However, he was bleeding heavily from the nose, and not long after taking the loss, he complained of headaches and nausea, at which point Carvalho was taken to a hospital.

The company that staged the fight, Total Extreme Fighting, issued a statement in which it expressed its “most sincere condolences to the family of Joao Carvalho’s and his teammates in Team Nobrega.” The statement, attributed to CEO Cesar Silva, added, “We will give whatever support we can to Joao’s family. We have been in contact with his family and they have requested that we all understand their need for privacy at this difficult time.”

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