On May 18th, twenty-six year old Sturgis, South Dakota native Dustin Jenson competed in an unregulated Ring Wars event in South Dakota. Although Jenson was quickly submitted by a triangle choke by Hayden Hensrud, he took no significant blows to the head and remained conscious after he tapped out. However, shortly after the fight Dustin was found by another fighter having a seizure. He was rushed to Rapid City Regional Hospital, where he would eventually die on May 24th.
An autopsy has revealed that blunt force trauma suffered the week before his fight is the official cause of Dustin Jenson’s untimely demise. As The Rapid City Journal reports:
The autopsy indicated the cause of death was a subdural hemorrhage resulting from blunt force trauma to the head. A subdural hemorrhage is a collection of blood on the surface of the brain and often causes brain injury and death.
The cause was related to an injury about a week earlier, according to the autopsy. The Sheriff’s Office said there is no conclusive evidence the injury was sustained in the fight.
Jenson, a husband and father, was participating in only his fifth fight since taking up the sport less than a year ago.
This is a tragic twist that confirms what most of us had already feared: That regulation of Mixed Martial Arts competition in South Dakota – requiring basic medical screenings such as blood tests to make sure unhealthy fighters aren’t competing – could have easily prevented Dustin Jenson’s death. But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this article is the final paragraph:
South Dakota has no governing body overseeing boxing or MMA. Dean Schrempp, a state legislator representing Corson, Dewey and Ziebach counties, has advocated for a governing body and said Jenson would still be alive had there been one in place.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard disagrees, saying a commission would lead to more fights and therefore more injuries and deaths.
Obviously, Governor Daugaard’s opinion is completely backwards; The South Dakota State Jackrabbits football team does not see players die every week because there is a commission overseeing the sport making sure that individuals who aren’t healthy enough to play aren’t needlessly risking their lives. But as long as people like Daugaard are in power, little will change in South Dakota.
If you live in South Dakota, please write to your local representatives urging them to create a commission to oversee MMA. What would truly be a shame is if we learn absolutely nothing from this incident. Fighters, like all athletes from full-contact sports, are risking their health every time they compete. There’s no need to add even more risks on top of it, especially when they could easily be prevented.
If you’d like to send a donation to Dustin’s family, please go here.