The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation has released their report outlining the investigation into the death of MMA competitor Sam Vasquez. The conclusion reached is that the MMA event in which Vasquez competed was conducted in accordance with all of the rules and protocols set forth in the Combative Sports Program.
Vasquez participated in the Renegades Extreme Fighting event at the Toyota Center in Houston on October 20th of last year and was immediately taken to the hospital after his contest against Vince Libardi. Upon examination it was determined that the Houston-based fighter was suffering from swelling in the brain, at which time several surgical procedures were performed to relieve the pressure. His condition began to worsen and he was placed into hospice care. He died on November 30th, 2007.
In April 2008, the autopsy report filed by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed the cause of death to be “complications of blunt trauma of head with subdural hemorrhage” and the death was ruled accidental.
Lee Parham, Business and Occupations Section Manager for the TDLR, presented his report (available at http://www.license.state.tx.us/) and answered questions from the media present. The report outlines the action that took place in the bout between Vasquez and Libardi, broken down by round, and the subsequent timeline of events leading from the bout stoppage to Vasquez’s arrival at the hospital. All post-fight response from event staff and medical officials on hand was found to be well within the standards set forth by the TDLR. Medical Advisory Committee member Dr. Ivan Melendez went on to describe the performance of the staff on hand as exemplary. “I don’t think you’d ever hear about someone falling off a ladder at home and being in the emergency room 14 minutes later,” said Melendez.
While the eventual death of Vasquez cannot be linked definitively to any one blow encountered in the bout, the report does describe a takedown in the first round in which he struck the back left side of his head on a cage post. Dr. Melendez did hypothesize that this blow could have been the major contributor to Vasquez’s subsequent brain swelling. In the pursuant discussion of the report Parham revealed that the TDLR will investigate implementing minimums on the thickness of cage post padding, which currently have no required specifications.
The final chapter of Sam Vasquez’s life has been closed but the repercussions will resonate in the months and years to come, not just for his family and friends but for fans of combative sports. His legacy is in illustrating that even when everything works as planned and everyone performs as they should there can still be tragic endings. Our condolences go out to all those effected by his passing.
Jason Tiefel, editor