Has there ever been a death in the UFC?

The UFC is the biggest MMA organization in the world. Have any UFC fighters ever died in the Octagon?
UFC gloves in the Octagon
UFC gloves in the Octagon / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

The topic of deaths in the UFC has been in the news lately due to a scene in the new movie, Road House. In the film, Dalton Elwood, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a former UFC fighter who killed his opponent during a UFC fight. This has piqued the interest of casual and non-MMA fans as to how realistic a death in the UFC actually is.

The good news is, there have been no deaths due to UFC fights. There have been serious injuries such as bone breaks, concussions and ligament tears but nothing life threatening, thankfully.

Unfortunately, that cannot be said for every promotion in the sport. Some many not realize, but UFC is not the sport, it's the organization. Much like the NFL is an organization that plays football, UFC is an organization within the sport of MMA.

There have been deaths in the sport, though not at the highest level. The first known death from MMA was Sam Vasquez, who fought in the Renegades Extreme Fighting promotion. According to PointSpreads, Vasquez "was knocked unconscious from a punch and then proceeded to have a seizure. He was taken to the hospital, where he eventually died after slipping into a 48-hour coma just over a month after his bout."

Some also credit the death of Alfredo Castro Herrera as the first fighter to die from an MMA contest in Tijuana, Mexico, on April 14, 1981, but his fight was considered a “boxing match mixed with karate and judo” and well before the UFC was even a thing.

There have been no UFC deaths but there have been several MMA deaths

Another high profile example was Joao Carvalho who died shortly after fighting Charlie Ward at Total Extreme Fighting 1 in April 2016. After the fight, where Carvalho lost via TKO, he began to feel ill. He was taken to the hosptial and underwent emergency surgery and died on April 11, two days after the fight. Ward is notable as a training partner of Conor McGregor's who appeared in the movie Road House.

Additionally, a fighter under the ONE Championship banner died while cutting weight. 21-year-old Yang Jian Bingp was scheduled to fight at ONE Championship 35 in 2015. His death prompted ONE Championship to adopt new regulations regarding weight cutting which they still use today.

There are significantly more deaths attributed to boxing over MMA and a full list of deaths due to boxing can be found here, warning, the size of it is jarring.


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