Amateur MMA Fighter Dies After Unregulated Michigan Event
Sportsnet.CA and MMA Junkie report that Felix Pablo Elochukwu has died after his first amateur MMA fight, which was held at an unsanctioned event in Michigan. He competed on Friday in Port Huron and died Saturday at a local hospital at the age of 35.
An autopsy was performed on Sunday and results will be available later this month, according to the St. Claire County (Mich.) Medical Examiner. Elochukwu was born in Nigeria but lived in Ontario, Canada. He fought at heavyweight and was a decorated grappler on the local circuit.
After fighting on the mat for two rounds, he was mounted in the third and took several strikes before the referee stopped the fight. He seemed fine, but then got worse as he left the cage and fell from a chair. A paramedic at the event helped him and an ambulance was called. Neither Elochukwu nor his opponent had to have any sort of medical check before the fight.
Amateur MMA is unregulated in Michigan, which means safety is left up to the promotions like Amateur Fighting Club, which held the event at an American Legion building. The Association of Boxing Commissions has told its member commissions not to license fighters from the state and not recognize event results from events held there. It noted concerns about the regulation of professional and amateur sports due to the laws that left the state unable to handle health and safety issues. Bills focused on regulating the events is waiting for a vote in Michigan’s house of representatives. A previous bill stalled in last year’s section, according to MLive.com.
Barrington Carr, director of the enforcement division of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (which handles the state’s athletic commission), said: “Legislators did not opt to regulate amateur events, so they have no reporting duty or responsibility to this agency, nor does the agency have any oversight or authority over those events. There are some current initiatives to try to bring [amateur MMA] into the regulations. If legisation [is] passed, we’d certainly be happy to enforce those laws.“
The AFC issued the following statement: “Last night’s event, April 6th, we lost a member of our MMA family and we would like to take this time to honor him. This is a tragic turn of events. We will keep his family and friends in our prayers and we ask you to do the same. May God be with them in this devastating time of loss. To us, this tragedy will not end today. He will remain in our hearts and on our minds. Further information will be posted at a later time.“
Three fighters have died in the past fifteen months in amateur fights, two at unregulated events.