Conor McGregor has joined the Mixed Martial Arts world in paying tribute to Joao Carvalho, the Portuguese fighter who passed away yesterday following a third-round TKO loss to Irish welterweight Charlie Ward at a Total Extreme Fighting event over the weekend.
McGregor, a teammate of Ward, posted a message on his official Facebook account in which he offered his sympathies to Carvalho's family whilst also defending the sport that took his life.
The comments come after a video had emerged in which McGregor, speaking in Dublin following the win for Ward, had suggested officials should have stopped the fight earlier than they did.
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“Terrible news regarding Joao Carvalho,” wrote McGregor. “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.”
The tragic death of Carvalho comes on the back of British boxer Nick Blackwell having spent a week in an induced coma following a fight with Chris Eubank Jr.
Both incidents have led to increased scrutiny on the fighting world, but McGregor was quick to recognise the positives associated with combat sport:
“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.”
Carvalho's death at the age of 28 following brain surgery is a reminder of the dangers associated with the sport and it is a tragedy for all involved.
The outpouring of tributes, though, led by McGregor also show the tight-knit community within the fighting world.