Page 11 of 11While competition in the sport is occasionally depicted as brutal by the media, there had never been a death or crippling injury in a sanctioned event in North America until the death of Sam Vasquez on November 30, 2007. Vasquez collapsed shortly after being knocked out by Vince Libardi in the third round of an October 20, 2007 fight at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.Vasquez had two separate surgeries to remove blood clots from his brain, and shortly after the second operation suffered a major stroke and never regained consciousness.While questions have been asked about the Vasquez's health before his final bout no firm indications of pre-existing problems have yet surfaced. Since he was age 35, he would have had to undergo extensive pre-fight medical screening in order to obtain a license to compete in Texas.
The only other verified fatality in MMA competition is the 1998 death of Douglas Dedge in an unsanctioned fight in Ukraine. There are unconfirmed reports that Dedge had a pre-existing medical condition.
A study by Johns Hopkins University concluded, "the overall injury rate [excluding injury to the brain] in MMA competitions is now similar to other combat sports [involving striking], including boxing. Knockout rates are lower in MMA competitions than in boxing. This suggests a reduced risk of traumatic brain injury in MMA competitions when compared to other events involving striking."
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