MMA death: Irish Minister Michael Ring aims to regulate sport after fighter dies

Joao Carvalho
Joao Carvalho underwent emergency brain surgery after the fight but died on Monday

Irish Minister of Sport Michael Ring says he plans to regulate mixed martial arts in the country following the death of fighter Joao Carvalho on Monday.

The Portuguese died in Dublin after spending 48 hours in a critical condition following a bout.

"Clearly there's a problem," the Irish Sports Minister told RTE Radio 1's Today with Sean O'Rourke.

"I'm going to ask John Treacy in Sport Ireland to see what we can do to try and regulate this sport."

McGregor success increasing MMA popularity

Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor has won seven and lost one fight in UFC

MMA is not funded by Sport Ireland, the umbrella body which governs sport in the Republic of Ireland, but it has become popular in the country following the success of Dubliner Conor McGregor.

Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight champion McGregor, 27, defended MMA as he paid tribute to Carvalho.

"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," said McGregor, who lost for the first time in UFC when he faced welterweight competitor Nate Diaz in March.

"It is easy for those on the outside to criticise our way of living.

"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."

However, Irish minister Ring said that he has had concerns about the regulation of MMA for some time and wrote to "17 operators" in 2014 calling for them to comply with safety standards.

"This particular sport is not regulated, has not looked for regulation and has not looked to be part of the Sport Ireland programme. They are not getting any funding from the state," he said.

"Two years ago I saw this danger coming down the line. I've had many meetings with people who are concerned about this and I wrote to these professional bodies.

"I wrote to 17 operators in February of 2014, outlining to them that I expect the safety standards that exist in other sports in Ireland, that they would comply with this regulations."

Irish Sports Minister Michael Ring
Irish Sports Minister Michael Ring says he finds MMA "difficult to watch"

'Fragmented MMA' a complicating factor

The minister added that the fragmented nature of MMA in Ireland was a complicating factor.

"If there's any other major sporting event in the country, there's national governing bodies," he said.

"Whoever is hosting that event has to comply with those safety standards and we need to bring in some kind of regulation to deal with this new phenomenon."

Ring added that he found MMA "very difficult" to watch and was something he would not like to see his family or friends engaging in.

"I have watched not very much of it because I couldn't spend too long watching that kind of sport," he said.

Carvalho, 28, was taken to hospital after being beaten in a fight at the National Stadium in Dublin by Laois man Charlie Ward on Saturday night.

Despite undergoing emergency brain surgery, Carvalho died on Monday.

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