For the second time in three years, the sport of mixed-martial arts will mourn the death of a fighter due to injuries while fighting.
Michael Kirkham died yesterday from what is believed to be complications from to his MMA debut on Saturday night for Dash Entertainment/King MMA "Confrontation at the Convocation Center" in Aiken, South Carolina.
His death is the second in three years for the sport, and once again, is fueling the already intense debate about the safety of MMA.
Proponents of the sport say that MMA is regulated, carefully officiated, and is much less dangerous than a widely accepted sport such as boxing, which aims to strike only at the head and rarely other regions.
Detractors of the sport continue to state their case that MMA is similar to cock fighting, and it should be outlawed due to the shear brutality and violence it promotes.
Sam Vasquez was the first known fatality due to MMA related injuries suffered during his fight in 2007 against Vince Libardi in Houston. According to Sherdog.com, both Kirkham and Vasquez never regained consciousness after their bouts, and while Vasquez remained on life support for weeks after his bout, he ultimately could not overcome multiple surgeries and a massive stroke.
MMA is considered by many to be one of, if not the most dangerous professional sports on the face of the Earth. Yet, MMA alongside lacrosse, happens to be one of the fastest growing sports. One may suggest the simple equation is violence equals viewership, but does it run deeper than viewership?
For now, fans and non-fans alike can only mourn the loss of yet another talented athlete, and wonder what went wrong.
"You cannot hide who you are once you step on the ring. On the moment that that bell rings…you forget about everything else. You think about survive, and you think about beating up the other guy."
-MMA Pioneer Renzo Gracie