The IMMAF (International Mixed Martial Arts Federation) has today made a call to action following the tragic death of Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho earlier this week.

Carvalho passed away on Monday April 11th after being hospitalized following a TKO loss to Irishman Charlie Ward at Total Extreme Fighting in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday April 9th. Doctors were unable to save his life despite performing emergency brain surgery. He was 28 years old.

The IMMAF said in an official statement: “In the wake of this tragic and isolated event, IMMAF urges governments to support national MMA organisations, such as the Irish Amateur Pankration Association, and make a sincere commitment to putting structures in place that create a consistent and safe environment for all. IMMAF calls for MMA competitions to be regulated by law as they are in countries such as the United States and in Sweden, so that best practice can be enforced.

“IMMAF also calls upon international sports agencies such as WADA and Sport Accord to formally recognize MMA. Lack of recognition creates obstacles to development and to increasing safety in the sport. This impacts right down to a national level, in areas that include hiring appropriately qualified medical professionals and securing insurance. Lack of recognition is likewise a barrier to funding, which would enable better medical care and safety measures, as well as investment in education and sport development.

“We call for formal recognition, regulation and grassroots support at national and international levels, not only to harness the positive potential of the sport but to vitally mitigate risk for its participants. Joao’s tragic passing presents a call to action.”