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Rose Namajunas Speaks Out Against Roufusport’s Abusive Coaching Methods Following the Death of Kickboxer Dennis Munson Jr.


(Video via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

On Saturday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a long, must-read feature on the death of Dennis Munson Jr., who collapsed and died following his kickboxing debut in Milwaukee in March 28th. The article sheds light on the “cascade of errors by fight officials” during the match, including a lack of regulatory oversight, an inept ringside physician — who was busy staring at his phone while Munson was showing signs of physical distress — and the use of same-day weigh-ins as an apparent cost-saving measure.

The person who arguably comes off looking the worst is Roufusport striking coach Scott Cushman, who cornered Munson that night and could be seen physically propping the fighter up between the second and third rounds, sending him back into battle despite the obvious red flags that Munson was in no shape to continue (You may recognize Cushman as the burly, bearded assistant coach for Team Pettis on TUF 20.) It’s difficult to watch, but footage of the entire fight and Munson’s collapse is above. As the video explains, the footage originally submitted to police by Roufusport was missing 32 seconds showing Munson’s actual collapse. The restored footage shows Cushman slapping Munson and holding him upright for a while until the fighter dropped to the canvas. Munson was pronounced dead later than night.

According to the MJS article, “The state says it has no authority to investigate the death or the actions of those in charge that night because it was an unregulated event,” which has only compounded the tragedy for Munson’s family. But yesterday, UFC strawweight Rose Namajunas — who formerly trained at Roufusport — spoke out with a series of social media posts, blasting Roufusport’s abusive coaching methods, and the gym’s hostile environment in which experienced fighters were regularly encouraged to beat up newbies, and coaches physically brutalized female students.


(via Rose’s instagram)

“Crazy that I finally speak out against the people that are responsible for this tragedy and now other people are coming out too it’s sad it takes someone’s life to bring awareness,” Namajunas wrote on Squor. She then passed along several stories of terrible experiences that former students have had at Roufusport, which we’ve reprinted below…

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Pro Wrestling Star and MMA Fighter Sean O’Haire Dead at 43 [UPDATED]


(O’Haire as a WCW rookie in 2000.)

The pro-wrestler, MMA fighter, and kickboxer known as Sean O’Haire (real name Sean Christopher Haire) died Monday at his home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, at the age of 43. A cause of death has not been announced yet. Update, via TMZ: “According to local police, O’Haire committed suicide. He was found in his bedroom beside his bed, with a red rope tied around his neck and connected to the bedpost. His body was discovered by his father, who then called 911.”

A native of Hilton Head Island, O’Haire was a lifelong student of the martial arts, who competed in Toughman competitions and boxing matches during the 1990s. He also wrestled briefly on the independent circuit, and owned a gym on Hilton Head called Breakthrough Fitness Center before making his mark in professional wrestling.

O’Haire made his WCW debut in June 2000, winning a tag team match with Mark Jindrak, and went on to win three WCW World Tag Team Championships; he was also named the 2000 “Rookie of the Year” by the Wrestling Observer. O’Haire began performing in the WWE in 2001 — following the WWE’s purchase of WCW — and appeared regularly through 2003 as his “devil’s advocate” persona.

After officially parting ways with the WWE in 2004, O’Haire made a successful transition into MMA with a guillotine choke win against Tony Towers, and went on to compile a 4-2 record in MMA, with appearances in Rumble on the Rock, Hero’s, and PRIDE. O’Haire also went 0-4 as a kickboxer in K-1, suffering knockout losses to the likes of Gary Goodridge and Musashi. O’Haire’s knockout win against Frankie Parkman at a Champions Quest MMA event in December 2007 was the last time he fought professionally.

Since then, O’Haire has owned a barbershop in Hilton Head and was recently working as personal trainer at Exzel Fitness in Spartanburg. According to an obituary on Tributes.com, a Celebration of Life visitation will be held 1:00-3:00 p.m. Saturday, September 13th, 2014, at his home at 510 Hampton Drive, Spartanburg, SC 29306.

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MMA Fighter Booto Guylain Dies From Head Trauma Suffered in EFC Africa Match Last Week


(Image via efcafrica.com)

A South African middleweight MMA fighter named Booto Guylain died earlier today, from head injuries he suffered during a TKO loss to Keron Davies last Thursday at EFC Africa 27. Guylain was 29 years old, and very new to the sport, as his only other pro fight was a previous TKO loss at EFC Africa 25 in November.

The fight that claimed Guylain’s life ended like so many others in MMA — with Guylain on his back sustaining a series of elbow strikes from Davies, who was in full mount. According to a news brief released by EFC Africa after the fight, Guylain was stabilized by the on-site medical team immediately afterwards and transported to the Johannesburg General Hospital, where he was treated for swelling and bleeding on the brain.

However, the South African MMA website PrettyTuff reported that Guylain’s medical treatment was delayed “because he does not have medical aid and [because of] the long process involved in admitting a patient into a busy government facility in South Africa.” At some point, Guylain lapsed into a coma, and died today despite the efforts of a neuro-surgical team.

“We are devastated,” said EFC Africa president Cairo Howarth. “This is a huge loss to the sport and to all who know him. Our thoughts are with his family in this trying time.” ONEPLAN, EFC Africa’s disability partner, will provide financial support to Guylain’s wife and son.

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MMA Coach Mauricio Zingano, 37, Found Dead After Apparent Suicide [UPDATED]


(Mauricio Zingano [right], shown here with his wife Cat and their son Brayden. / Photo via zinganobjj.com)

Third-degree BJJ black belt, coach, and former MMA fighter Mauricio Zingano has died at the age of 37, after reportedly committing suicide yesterday in Denver. Zingano was the husband of top-ranked UFC bantamweight Cat Zingano, the father of a young son, and the owner of two Black House MMA gym-affiliates in Colorado. Zingano’s manager Jorge Guimaraes confirmed the tragic news last night with Globo:

Yes, he hanged himself in Denver on Monday. It’s something unexplainable, [I] do not know what may have motivated him to do so. We were together and he was fine, had plans and a lifetime ahead. It’s a tragedy. I’m going to Denver today to assist Cat, who is devastated, does not know what to do.”

According to his bio, Zingano began studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 16 under the tutelage of the Gracie family, and represented their art in several “challenge matches,” in which martial artists from other disciplines would come to the Gracie Academy to challenge BJJ fighters. (“He was known as one of the ‘gate keepers’ at the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy during an era where bouts were fought without protective gear, weight classes and on a moment’s notice.”)

Zingano went on to become a two-time BJJ national champion, and was undefeated in amateur and professional MMA competition. He opened his first BJJ school in 2004, and was voted “Colorado’s MMA Coach of the Year” in 2010.

Our deepest condolences go out to the Zingano family during this painful time.

Updates, after the jump: MMAWeekly adds a couple more details on Mauricio’s death, and Cat Zingano releases an official statement.

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UFC Heavyweight Shane Del Rosario Dies at the Age of 30


(Video via YouTube.com/fightmagazine)

Two weeks after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest possibly brought on by a rare heart condition called Long QT Syndrome, UFC heavyweight Shane Del Rosario died last night at the age of 30, at Hoag Memorial Presbyterian Hospital in Newport Beach, California. The UFC confirmed the news this evening. Del Rosario was taken off life support on November 29th, and though we heard promising reports about his health since then, his body wasn’t able to recover.

Del Rosario won the first 11 fights of his career — all by stoppage, 10 in the first round — but his career momentum was slowed by a life-threatening car accident in April 2011, a pair of UFC defeats in 2012, and injuries that kept him out of competition through all of 2013. Of course, the man was so much more than just his wins and losses in the cage. Watch the video above and you’ll see why Shane was so beloved by his friends, family, and teammates.

RIP, Shane. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.

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Tim Kennedy Was Apparently Not the Biggest Fan of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela died yesterday, marking the end of a life lauded as inspirational and heroic by millions around the world. The first black president of South Africa, Mandela is hailed as a central figure in the fight against apartheid and its brutal legacy of racial segregation.

In case it needs to be mentioned, Mandela was not American, and as such, not all of his beliefs reflected traditional American values. He publicly supported Fidel Castro and Moammar Gadhafi, and was a ferocious critic of American foreign policy. By definition, he was a revolutionary, determined to tear down existing social structures in his home country. He wasn’t one of those non-violent types, either. The militant group that Mandela co-founded, Umkhonto we Sizwe, carried out guerrilla attacks that were aimed at government targets but resulted in numerous civilian deaths.

Maybe you didn’t know that stuff; the darker pages of Mandela’s story certainly aren’t emphasized in mainstream eulogies of his life. On the other hand, you can be an American patriot and still respect Mandela for the life he led, his indomitable spirit, the battles he fought and won for human justice. The world is a better, fairer place today because he existed.

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Weight Cut Blamed in Death of Brazilian MMA Fighter Leandro Souza [UPDATED]


(Photo via MMANYTT.SE)

A 26-year-old Brazilian fighter named Leandro “Feijao” Souza died yesterday while cutting weight for today’s Shooto Brazil 43 card in Rio de Janeiro, MMA Fighting reports. The 1-1 MMA rookie was attempting to finish his cut for a flyweight matchup with Gabriel Brasil, when he passed out and died shortly thereafter.

According to his teammate Andre Santos, “We don’t have much information yet, but we do know that is related to his weight cut. He’s my student but he also trains at Nova Uniao for about a year. I wasn’t with him during this process because I have a fight scheduled in Russia, so he spent the night at Nova Uniao’s gym. His sister called me saying that he had passed out so I went to the hospital, but he was already dead when I got there.”

Deaths in MMA have thankfully been a rare occurrence — but the torturous lengths that some athletes go to in preparation for their fights can be more dangerous than the fights themselves. Improper weight-cutting can permanently ruin a fighter’s health, causing everything from kidney damage to hypogonadism. Unfortunately, massive weight cuts have become a necessary evil for fighters who don’t want to be at a size disadvantage during their fights, and the wide distances between weight classes in MMA contribute to the problem. Maybe this tragic incident can serve as an eye-opener for young fighters who severely dehydrate themselves to compete, at the expense of their long-term health.

Our deepest condolences go out to Souza’s family and the Brazilian MMA community.

UPDATE: Shooto Brazil president Andre Pederneiras has announced that tonight’s event has been canceled as a “sign of mourning” for Souza.

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Former Boxing Champ Tommy Morrison Dies at 44


(Morrison celebrating after winning the WBO heavyweight championship in 1993 | Photo via Getty)

Tommy Morrison (48-3-1) was a boxing sensation, a cautionary tale and a controversial figure. He won the WBO heavyweight title in a 1993 fight against George Foreman, starred in Rocky V and earned millions of dollars. In 1996, he signed a multi-fight deal that was supposed to earn him nearly $40 million more.

Then, hours before a fight, he discovered that he had tested positive for HIV. Morrison retired from boxing but would later make a brief comeback, winning two more boxing bouts after denying the existence of HIV or AIDS, not only in his own body but in general, and testing negative multiple times for the HIV virus.

Morrison became ill again after complications from a chest surgery two years ago. Late Sunday night, the 44-year-old former champion died in an Omaha, Nebraska hospital with his wife Trisha by his side. We do not yet know an official cause of death.

A recent ESPN profile of Morrison gave a rare glimpse into his strange and secretive later life. It paints Morrison as troubled, to be sure, but also as a loving partner, son and caring friend who was, perhaps, too generous at times.

Morrison’s fight reels paint a picture of masterful violence — a skilled heavyweight boxer with speed and knockout power to spare. As Morrison’s family mourns his passing, let us fight fans enjoy some of the champ’s work in the sport he loved…

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Jeff Blatnick, 1957-2012: A Pioneer and a Friend


(Jeff Blatnick with Madeleine Genia. Photo courtesy of the author.)

By Jim Genia

Jeff Blatnick, a two-time Olympian and gold medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 1984 Summer Olympics, died today at age 55 due to complications from heart surgery. It’s a blow to amateur wrestling, as Blatnick was a indefatigable coach, and it’s a blow to MMA, as Blatnick was a pioneer in the sport and widely considered to be one of the best cageside judges in the business. And if you knew the man, and were privileged enough to call him a friend, well, it isn’t so much a blow as it’s an Anderson Silva-esque knee to the solar plexus.

His accomplishments were many and awe-inspiring. His gold medal came after battling back cancer, and he only gave up competing when the cancer returned and he had to undergo chemotherapy. When the UFC came along, Blatnick became its first face of true legitimacy, working in front of the camera as a commentator (a gig he held from UFC 4 to UFC 32) and later, behind the scenes as the organization’s — and really, the sport’s — vanguard in the quest for sanctioning and mainstream acceptance. Prior to the crafting of the Unified Rules, there were the rules that Blatnick helped develop to tame the spectacle. And perhaps most notable of all, there was the name he wanted the sport to adopt: “mixed martial arts.” (Before then, it was called no-holds-barred – a barbaric throwback to the bloodsport that wound up banned throughout most of the country in the mid ’90s).

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Autopsy Shows Amateur Fighter Dustin Jenson Died of Unrelated Blunt Force Trauma


Jenson, pictured on the right (black shorts), died of a seizure after competing in an unregulated MMA event.

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.

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