Photo of Felix Pablo Elochukwu via BloodyElbow
Thirty Five year-old Felix Pablo Elochukwu died Saturday night in Michigan after fighting in the AFC Unleash the Beast event. Elochukwu lost his fight via third round stoppage and soon collapsed while sitting on a chair, according to Sports Net. Despite being tended to by paramedics and being taken to a hospital, Elochukwu died shortly after.
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,” SportsNet reports.
According to Bloody Elbow, an autopsy performed on Elochukwu Monday did not present a clear cause of death, either, adding to the mystery of this tragedy. The most important thing that can be said at a time like this is simply that it is sad that Elochukwu lost his life and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones in what must be a confusing and horrible time.
It will be important for the health of the sport of MMA that we all continue to pay attention to this sad case and others like it as more information is made available, however. Michigan is one of the many states where MMA is legal but goes unregulated. In cases like that, rules, medical staffing and just about everything else usually governed and taken care of by a state athletic commission, is left entirely up to promoters.
Did Elochukwu have a pre-existing condition that made athletic competition more dangerous than usual for him? Could the types of pre-fight screenings required by regulated events have helped bring such a condition to light? Was the matchmaking – another facet of MMA that is approved or not by athletic commissions for regulated fights – fair or did it leave Elochukwu exposed to needless danger?
Was the refereeing adequate? Was the medical attention and care he received at this unregulated event as good as it would have been at a regulated event and could that have made a difference?
We don’t yet know but these are the types of questions that need to be brought up as the sport grows and moves forward. One of the greatest things about MMA is it’s accessibility and the few barriers to entry for competitors. Just about all major champions began their careers in organizations and events not unlike the one held Saturday night in Port Huron, MI.
Is it time, however, for us to reject MMA competitions in places where it won’t be properly regulated? There are good arguments on all sides. What do you think, nation?