MMA fighter Joao Carvalho dies following loss in Ireland; McGregor, Kavanagh supporting GoFundMe efforts for family

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho has died following complications from a TKO loss to SBG’s Charlie Ward at Total Extreme Fighting 1 in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday night.

His team confirmed the news on Facebook, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover costs due to his untimely passing, with support from SBG coach John Kavanagh and Ward’s teammate, UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor.

Carvalho was defeated in the third round on Saturday night after what was said to be a protracted one-sided fight; however, he’d been responsive in between rounds, taking a turn for the worse after the fight.

“Nobrega Team confirms the passing of its athlete Joao Carvalho, which took place last night at the Beaumont Hospital, in Dublin, at 9:35 PM. It’s with deep sadness that we write these words to inform you that Joao passed away after being in a critical state for 48 hours,” his team’s statement read (translated by Lucas Rezende at “During a TEF-MMA event that took place on Saturday, at the National Boxing Stadium, in Dublin, where all safety rules were followed and in a bout where the referee followed all the correct and usual procedures. Joao ‘Rafeiro’ Carvalho felt unwell about 20 minutes after the fight.

“Still in the venue, he was assisted by the local medical team and then quickly transferred to the Beaumont Hospital, where he underwent a surgical cerebral intervention after which he remained in critical state for the next 48 hours until his passing, this Monday, at 9:35 PM.  Despite the permanent medical assistance provided by both the organization and the hospital, for whom we are very thankful and despite the risks this sport involves, Joao’s passing, in our professional point of view, was a huge misfortune. He leaves his family and us from Nobrega Team, who have been by his side throughout his career, deeply sad. It’s with a huge weight in our hearts that we present our most sincere condolences to his family and all the Nobrega Team.”

Following news of Carvalho’s passing, both McGregor and Kavanagh released statements regarding the tragic news.

“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho,” wrote Kavanagh. “On Saturday, April 9, the fighter suffered a medical issue following his three round TKO stoppage loss at a Total Extreme Fighting (TEF) Championship event at the National Stadium in Dublin Ireland. IAPA is working diligently with TEF to gather and evaluate all relevant facts and event processes and will participate in any investigation. Our condolences and thoughts, though, are with Joao’s family and friends and we kindly ask everyone to respect their privacy at this time.”

Wrote McGregor, “Terrible news regarding Joao Carvalho. To see a young man doing what he loves, competing for a chance at a better life, and then to have it taken away is truly heartbreaking.  We are just men and women doing something we love in the hope of a better life for ourselves and our families. Nobody involved in combat sports of any kind wants to see this. It is such a rare occurrence that I don’t know how to take this. I was ringside supporting my teammate, and the fight was so back and forth, that I just can’t understand it.

“My condolences go out to Joao’s family and his team. Their man was a hell of a fighter and will be sorely missed by all. 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. 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. 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.

“Rest in peace, Joao.”

To give support to Carvalho and his family, donate at this link.

Penick’s Analysis: This is an absolutely tragic situation, and we join all those in the MMA world offering our sincere condolences to the family, friends, teammates, and coaches of this young man Carvalho. It’s hard to say if there was anything preventable in this spot, but it’s proof of the very real danger inherent in combat sports. We hope that referees, doctors, and corners are capable of recognizing when things have gone too far in a fight, but oftentimes – in less stringently regulated events especially – that winds up not being the case. Death and serious injury remain rare, but just like has happened in boxing over the years it’s a risk that can be there. This is, again, a horrible tragedy, and it’s possible that nothing more could have been done; from the accounts here they had doctors on site and did everything in their power to get him help when things went south. Hopefully his family can get the assistance they’ll need after this tragic loss.

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1 Comment on MMA fighter Joao Carvalho dies following loss in Ireland; McGregor, Kavanagh supporting GoFundMe efforts for family

  1. “However, he’d been responsive in between rounds, taking a turn for the worse after the fight.”

    The problem with rationalizations of this sort is that the (on-line) videos show Joao Carvalho, half conscious, being brutally and senselessly hammered on the head by Charlies “Hospital” Ward – as this terminator likes to be known…

    And as the (legal) murder takes place, the so-called “referee” ensures the autopsy is through…

    By the time the “ref” stops the “fight”, the corpse of Joao Carvalho is ready for the Irish medics who (with due respect) may have lacked the expertise to save the victim’s life. He should have been flown to London.

    One could not help but being reminded of Anderson “Spider” Silva in the aftermath of his fight with Michael Bisping – which he lost by refusing to “murder” his opponent.

    I am told that afterwards “The Spider” said and I quote:”This is a sport , isn’t it ? So why do people expected me to kill my opponent?!”.

    I can only hope this “fighter” death was not in vain. In boxing, referees do not allow a fight to continue unless an “athlete” is fit.

    Why is it that in MMA people are allowed to be beaten senselessly until one of them passes out (or is murdered) in order to stop a fight?

    As a human being, I feel profoundly embarrassed by the fact that such barbaric bouts are now taking place worldwide in the name of “Sport”.

    May be this is a case for the United Nations and the courts! What happened here was murder pure and simple.

    “Who should go to jail, then?” I hear you asking …
    Well, take a pick …

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