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Joao Carvalho’s Death Stirs Up Old Dispute Over What to Do About MMA in Ireland

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Following the death of Portuguese mixed martial artist Joao Carvalho on Monday after his knockout loss at a TEF event at the National Stadium in Dublin two days prior, the Irish media and the Irish government are once more at loggerheads with each other and themselves over the role that MMA should play in Irish life.

Those managing to keep their cool in the face of tragedy focused their reactions on sympathy and shared humanity and the need for stronger regulations on MMA in Ireland, a country whose ambivalent relationship with the sport seems only to have grown more heated with the rise of native son and UFC superstar Conor McGregor and now the death of a fighter on their soil.

To his everlasting credit, McGregor, who trains with Charlie Ward, Carvalho’s opponent last Saturday night, and was in the audience supporting him when the fight took place, took to Facebook yesterday to write a letter honoring the Portuguese fighter while at the same time defending the sport that killed him against the inevitable opportunistic condemnation of the moralizing class.

“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,” McGregor wrote. “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.”

Meanwhile Ireland’s Minister of State Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, began calling for the regulation of MMA almost immediately after it was announced that Carvalho had died. Currently professional fighters and promotions are encouraged to gain approval from a ….View full article