Shocked fans rally to help raise funds for Joao family
Irish MMA fans are rallying to raise funds for the family of Portuguese fighter Joao Carvalho.
Fellow pro fighter Declan Larkin from Derry launched the crowdfunding page which hopes to raise £5,000 (€6,260) to help the late sport star's family bring his body home.
As tributes to the 28-year-old poured in, the fundraising effort had reached a third of its target.
The organiser wrote yesterday: "We have all woke this morning to the absolutely devastating news of the passing of MMA star Joao Carvalho. This is a very dark day for his family team and the sport.
"Through this page we would like to raise money to help his loved ones bring Joao home.
"The Irish MMA community is deeply saddened and I know we can all come together in this devastating time to help in any way possible."
Welterweight Carvalho was rushed to Beaumont Hospital after sustaining a head injury during the bout with Charlie Ward at the National Stadium on Saturday night, but later lost his fight for life.
As #RIPJoaoCarvalho began trending on Twitter in the wake of the news, MMA star Paul Redmond tweeted his shock.
"Absolutely heartbreaking. Thoughts are with his family, friends and team. Very sad," he wrote.
Speaking to the Herald, Portugal's ambassador to Ireland Bernardo Futscher Pereira said the news had come as a shock.
"We are deeply saddened by the death of Joao Carvalho and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends," he said.
"We now await the results of the investigation into the circumstances of his death."
Meanwhile, acting junior sports minister Michael Ring urged extreme fighting promoters to introduce "appropriate safety standards in order to avoid, in so far as is possible, serious injury".
"I extend my deepest sympathies to Joao Carvalho's family," he said.
"I expect there will now be an investigation and I do not propose to comment any further until the results of that investigation are known."
Expressing his condolences, Fianna Fail's spokesman on sport Timmy Dooley noted that any debate over safety in MMA was for "another time".
"In light of the death, I'd like to express my sympathy to his family and friends on behalf of myself and the party," he said.