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Maggie Hendricks

Fighter dies after his pro debut in South Carolina

Michael Kirkham, a 30-year-old fighter from South Carolina, died after making his pro debut in Aiken, S.C., on Saturday night.

According to the Associated Press, Aiken County coroner Tim Carlton said Kirkham collapsed following Saturday night's fight at the USC Aiken Convocation Center. He added that Kirkham was taken to Aiken Regional Medical Center and never regained consciousness.

Kirkham, who had been struck several times in the head during the bout, died of a brain hemorrhage Monday morning, according to WRDW.com.

Carlton said an autopsy will be done Tuesday.

This was not Kirkham's first bout; he fought six times as an amateur, including this loss.

This is the second time a fighter has died after an MMA bout. The first was Sammy Vasquez, who passed away after a bout in the fall of 2007. Kirkham's fight was regulated by South Carolina officials.

MMA was legalized and regulated in South Carolina just over a year ago. So soon after Kirkham's death, MMA fans and opponents alike should not use this as a reason to question the sport, the South Carolina officials or MMA's place in society. Until we find out anything concrete, the only suitable course of action is to keep Michael Kirkham's friends and family in our thoughts.

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