On Friday night in Stockholm Sweden, Frida Wallberg (11-2) and Diana Prazak (12-2) fought for Wallberg's WBC super featherweight belt. Prazak, coming off a loss to Holly Holm, upset the champ with an 8th round KO. Unfortunately, the bout's tragic aftermath has overshadowed their spirited contest.
After taking an early lead, Wallberg was rocked and dropped several times before referee Bela Florian ended the fight. The ringside physician, Dr. Robert Ludwig, cleared Wallberg and began to leave the arena. However, Prazak's cornerwoman, legendary boxer Lucia Rijker, grew concerned for Wallberg. Rijker then insisted that Dr. Ludwig return.
You can view the KO and immediate aftermath of the fight in this video. In a matter of seconds, Rijker goes from carrying Prazak around the ring in celebration to frantically tending to Wallberg.
Wallberg was eventually carried out of the arena on a stretcher and taken to Karolinska hospital in an ambulance. An MRI revealed she had a severe cerebral hemorrhage. She was then rushed into surgery, put into a medically induced coma and hooked up to a respirator. She was responsive when briefly woken up during the night by nurses. The hospital plans to wake her up again when specialists are on-hand. As of now, her condition remains life-threatening. At the very least, the injury is career-ending, as Sweden will not license her again after suffering a major brain bleed.
Considering that Bloody Elbow is primarily an MMA website, it's fair to ask what the MMA world can learn from this terrible incident. While some are playing Monday morning quarterback with the referee's performance, general opinion does not consider Florian's stoppage egregious. Many are also calling this an unforeseeable accident--a pre-fight MRI of Wallberg's brain came back clean two weeks ago. (If anyone has further knowledge of this kind of injury, please share in the comments section.)
Thus far, the ringside physician has felt the brunt of the criticism. According to reports, Robert Ludwig has been a ringside physician for decades. And yet, many accuse him of mishandling this event. Elsewhere Friday night, many criticized Steve Mazzagatti for his handling of Josh Burkman's submission victory over Jon Fitch. Some argued that a fighter should never have to stop a fight when his opponent goes unconscious from a choke--that's the referee's job. Well, if anything, the Wallberg situation is far worse: A doctor missed the signs of a serious neurological problem, and the opposing fighter's cornerwoman was forced to save the day.
Women's Boxing Archive Network has a selection of thoughts and prayers for Frida Wallberg and will provide updates on her condition as they become available.
Update: Wallberg's health has taken a turn for the better. She's now conscious and alert, and even left a message for fans on Facebook. Additionally, new reports state that she in fact suffered a subdural hematoma (a bleed between the skull and the brain, not within the brain). Despite criticism, the head of the Swedish boxing commission has claimed that proper procedure was followed at the event.
Also, I've found the full fight video. It includes a few more brief scenes following the fight. Around 36:00, Rijker and Prazak can be heard yelling for the doctor to return, and there's a brief clip of Wallberg being wheeled to an ambulance on a stretcher around 41:00.