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MMA Figher Dies After First Pro Match

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Michael Kirkham Dies Following Pro MMA Debut


by Ray Hui
MMA Writer

Michael Kirkham died early Monday following his professional MMA debut this past Saturday on a pro and amateur card in Aiken, S.C.

Kirkham, a lightweight nicknamed “Tree” for towering at 6-feet-9, was 30.

Kirkham competed on a Dash Entertainment and King MMA co-promoted “Confrontation at the Convocation Center” event at the USC Aiken Convocation Center, a card regulated by the South Carolina Athletic Commission.

“Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with his family, other than that I have no comment,” Sam King, a promoter of Saturday’s card, told

According to WRDW in Augusta, Kirkham was transported to Aiken Regional Medical Center from the venue following the fight and was pronounced dead of a brain hemorrhage Monday morning.

Kirkham, who according to his own Facebook page, held an amateur record of 3-3, lost his pro debut by referee stoppage Saturday when he was knocked unconscious by ground and pound strikes.

Kirkham was the captain of his own MMA team and according to his “Fayetteville Independents” teammate John Yox’s Facebook page, had “severe bleeding in the brain” and had been kept alive with the help of a machine. A message left on Yox’s voicemail was unreturned.

The South Carolina Athletic Commission requires that all boxers and MMA fighters submit an original or certified lab report indicating that the competitor is HIV, Hepatitis B and C negative. Also, the fighter must complete an ophthalmologic (eye) exam as well as a physical by a doctor.

Kirkham becomes the second fighter to pass away due to causes from a regulated MMA fight in the US. The first known death in a regulated event was Sam Vasquez, who died on Nov. 30, 2007 from head injuries on a local card in Houston, Texas. Vazquez was in a coma for 42 days after the fight in October.

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