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The Moment We Feared

I've been dreading the moment when an MMA fighter would be gravely injured in a sanctioned MMA match here in the states. Statistically I knew it was just a matter of time. Despite all precautions, the sport is risky, high-impact, high stress and yes, dangerous. Probably less dangerous than hang gliding or boxing, but still dangerous.

The Fight Network is reporting that Sammy Vasquez, a fighter in Houston is fighting for his life as a result of injuries incurred in the cage.

I hate to quote the whole article, but Anthony Armstrong has done such a damn good job of reporting and writing that there's nothing here that isn't essential and newsworthy.

Sammy Vasquez has been fighting for his life in Saint Joseph Medical Center's Critical Care Unit since the night of his Oct. 20 Renegades Extreme Fighting bout at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Revolution Dojo's Vasquez (1-2) suffered a third-round KO loss to Vince Libardi (4-3) before being taken to the hospital by local medical technicians seated cageside.

Vasquez's 26 days in critical condition have resulted in multiple blood clots, fluid on his brain, brain swelling and, most recently, a massive stroke he suffered last Friday, according to messages left on the TXMMA.com forum by Vasquez's wife, Sandra. In the latest posting, dated Nov. 12, the family asked not to be contacted and simply requested prayers. Vasquez's mother spoke with The Fight Network on Tuesday but would only confirm her son is 35 years old and the father of a 7-year-old.

Paul Erickson, owner of the popular TXMMA.com Web site, photographed the event in which Vasquez was injured.

"There was nothing out of the ordinary," Erickson said. "They scrambled and hit the cage. Sammy looked a little wobbly when the referee called the doctor in, but nothing [was] out of the ordinary. Everyone was puzzled at the time, because no one could tell when or where he was injured."

Renegades Extreme Fighting is owned and promoted by Saul Soliz, a longtime striking coach to Tito Ortiz and Ricco Rodriguez and well respected figure in the MMA community. Renegades has held 23 events to date. Soliz did not return calls for comment.

In the sport's 14-year history in the United States, there have been no serious life-threatening injuries. The only reported death occurred at a non-regulated event in the Ukraine in 1998 after American Doug Dedge passed out shortly following his bout. Following his death, unsubstantiated reports claimed Dedge had a pre-existing medical condition.

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation representative Greg Alvarez said the TDLR was monitoring Vasquez's condition closely. If it takes a turn for the worse, Alvarez said the agency would investigate the incident further. "Sam was well qualified to fight," said Alvarez.

Alvarez said the TDLR ensured all of the regulations, licensing and safety checklists were adhered to but was reluctant to talk about the night Vasquez was critically injured.

Erickson, who has trained in and covered Texas MMA since 1997, also observed that "the cage was properly padded and reinforced; everything was inspected before the fights started, and there were no illegal moves or strikes. This is the frustrating part, in that there's no easy explanation, and we'll have to resign ourselves that sometimes unfortunate incidents result, even when everything is handled properly."

Let's all pray for Sammy and his family.