Conor McGregor is known as a brash and admittedly uncaring fighter, who is about the money rather than the glory or the respect that some martial artists seek during their time in the cage. But the Conor McGregor persona is markedly different than Conor McGregor the martial artist.
Conor McGregor the martial artist accepted government assistance from Ireland as he struggled to make his way in the dangerous and violent world of MMA, and like Chael Sonnen, he may have a big mouth to sell his fights, but he knows the risks and struggles each fighter goes through to step into a cage. He has seen the highs and the lows, and if tragedy were to strike, the fighter who wears his heart on his sleeve wouldn’t hesitate to share his feelings and give support. Sadly, that type of tragedy struck.
Over the weekend, Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho died 48 hours after losing via TKO to Charlie Ward, one of McGregor’s teammates, in a Total Extreme Fighting event in Dublin. Carvalho was checked on between rounds by the referee and doctor, who cleared him each time. Reports indicate that the medical staff was efficient and careful in their attending to Carvalho, which makes this horrible event even more painful.
Unfortunately, it looks like this may have been a late stoppage. Talking to MMAConnect.tv, McGregor described an all-too-familiar complaint from MMA fans and pundits — the quality of refereeing varies wildly from ref to ref, leaving some in potential danger.
“My team-mate Charlie had a good win just there. Hell of a fight. Yer man [Carvalho] took some big shots. Thought it could have been stopped a little earlier. I feel these referee’s need to be on the ball a little bit.”
McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh echoed the sentiments felt throughout the sport.
This unfortunate situation will likely give ammo to politicians and those against mixed martial arts, but hopefully everything that could be done was done, and the sport and promoters can learn from this situation to make the sport safer. It may also lead to fighters being more fairly compensated for the danger they put themselves in when they choose to compete.
McGregor is correct, the martial arts are a positive thing that have changed millions of lives. What happened to Carvalho is nothing short of tragic and we can’t even begin to comprehend what his family is feeling now. Hopefully this type of freak accident is viewed as such and not a regular occurrence.