pabloelochukwu

Terrible news: there’s been another death related to mixed martial arts. 35 year old Pablo Elochukwu of Ontario died shortly after losing his first fight. Sportsnet has more:

The first two rounds were said to have been mostly grappling, but the inexperienced fighters both began showcasing signs of fatigue, especially in between rounds two and three.

Sometime in the third round, Elochukwu was mounted and was not intelligently defending what were deemed to be soft hammer fists. The referee made the decision to halt the bout, potentially believing that Pablo was not going to be able to improve the position he was in.

Elochukwu appeared to be fine during the announcement of the final decision and walked away on his own accord, albeit, with some assistance to ensure the fatigued fighter could make it to a seat.

When he did sit down, those around him noticed something was wrong and offered him some orange juice, believing his blood sugar may have dropped significantly. He then fell off the chair, where paramedics were called in to assist.

They showed up within minutes and apparently revived him, but took him away to be safe, likely to the nearest hospital. Shortly thereafter, Elochukwu passed away, and it is currently unknown if he did so en route to the hospital, or at the medical facility.

It was an amateur bout held in Port Huron, Michigan – right across the Canadian border from Sarnia, Ontario. And the thing about amateur MMA in Michigan is it’s legal but also completely unregulated. While reports state there were EMTs on site and aid was administered immediately, there’s no oversight whatsoever regarding the health of the fighters competing. It’s hard to know if this would have made a difference in this specific case, but any incident like this should obviously make us review the way things are handled and determine what we can do to make the sport safer. And when it comes to Michigan, there’s a lot of issues:

Nowhere have there been a greater number of reports of problems with amateur fights than in Michigan. In fact, the State of Michigan has so egregiously failed to adequately regulate amateur Mixed Martial Arts that the Association of Boxing Commissions last year took the unprecedented step of asking the member commissions to bar amateur Michigan fighters, or those who have recently competed in Michigan.

In Michigan, pre-fight screenings for amateur MMA fighters are minimal or non-existent, as they are entirely at the discretion of the promoter. Fighters under 18 can compete. No ringside physician is required, or even an ambulance.

Last month a Michigan state house committee held a meeting to address the regulation of amateur fighters. A similar bill passed the state house in the last legislative session, but died in the state senate.

For years there have been warnings that the woeful state of regulation was jeopardizing the health and safety of fighters. And now one of them has died.