Tragedy unfolded in the small town of Aberdeen, Washington, a place perhaps best known as the hometown of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Over the weekend, an MMA fighter (whose identity is presently being withheld out of respect for his friends and family) who fought on the Harbor Beatdown "Brawl at the Mall" card on Saturday, collapsed in the changing room following the completion of his bout. Local radio station KBKW did a full news segment on the status of the fighter, with quotes from promoter and event coordinator Scott Bean.
"I hear my sister from the backroom saying ‘he's not breathing get Shihan' and I don't even know how I heard that - I was all the way in the front of the building. I ran back there, my sister; she's a nurse for us that night, and I asked him if he was ok and I got no response. I checked for his pulse and I told her I had no pulse and she told me to start compressions and I did."
Prior to the collapse, Bean spoke to the fighter, who told Bean that he was just tired.
"He was exhausted. I'm the promoter, so the first thing I did was asked him was if he was OK, and he actually looked up at me and smiled and said ‘Yeah I'm just tired man.'
His corner guys, and his team helped him up and they took him back to the dressing room and they figured he was OK. He wasn't really showing any signs that he wasn't OK. But my nurse insisted that she go back with him."
The man was taken to a local emergency room before he was transferred Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Sunday, where he was initially listed in critical condition. A Monday night update confirmed that he died in hospital due to kidney failure.
Following news of the fighter's death, Bean later published a statement on his Facebook page, saying that the man's kidney failure was the result of a pre-existing medical condition that was undetectable through their pre-fight medical check, which the fighter had passed.
The state of Washington began regulating amateur MMA effective January 1st, 2013, which means that all promoters, fighters, and officials must have valid licenses from the Washington State Department of Licensing. According to the official mixedmartialarts.com database, no Harbor Beatdown shows have been listed since April 2012 despite the fact that they have been regularly running cards over the past few years. The regulations don't necessarily require that amateur events also have to be sanctioned by the DoL, which means that they can be overseen by a licensed sanctioning organization.
Bloody Elbow will have follow-ups on this story as more details become available.