The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations announced Monday that its review of an Oct. 20 mixed martial arts show in which a fighter was seriously injured and later died showed the event was conducted in compliance with all regulating procedures.
The aftermath of the Oct. 20 Renegades Extreme Fighting Championship show at the Toyota Center in Houston culminated in tragedy on Friday with the death of 35-year-old fighter Sammy Vasquez.
Vasquez, a Houston native, had been hospitalized since being knocked out by Vince Libardi in a featherweight match on the show. He underwent two operations to relieve clotting in his brain, suffered a major stroke on Nov. 9 and had been in a medically induced coma for nearly a month before his death.
The regulating body said Monday that it began its investigation immediately after the show and, despite the outcome, found no wrongdoing.
"From the pre-fight review conducted by the referee, to the actions of the physician on duty and the emergency medical technicians, everyone involved with the Oct. 20 card conducted themselves accordingly and adhered to all procedures," said Bill Kuntz, the department's executive director.
"We want to commend the ringside officials who presided over this event for their professionalism and quick actions," he said. "The referee immediately stopped the fight when he saw that Sammy was hurt. The doctors and paramedics worked quickly to give Sammy the medical attention he needed and to get him to the hospital."
The cause of death has not been released, but if it was determined to be fight-related, it would be the first mixed martial arts death in North America in the 14-year history of the sport.
The department reviewed a video recording of the Vasquez vs. Libari match and interviewed ringside personnel, including the department staff members at the show, the referee, the physician and emergency medical technicians.
"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of Sammy Vasquez during this very difficult time," Kuntz said. "Texas and the mixed martial arts community have lost a true fighter."
Steve Bruno of the department said on Monday that he didn't know if any changes in the way Texas governs MMA competition would be made, and said rumors that the state was considering outlawing the sport were untrue. The next major event in Texas is scheduled for Mark Cuban’s HDNet Fights show on Dec. 15 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The Department did not address whether it was appropriate for Vasquez, who had two career matches and had not competed in more than a year, to be matched up with Libardi, who was 14 years his junior and had seven career matches.
The promoter of the Oct. 20 event, Saul Soliz, was unavailable for comment on Monday, but issued a statement to the Associated Press through his lawyer.
"He was a great husband, father, son, brother, friend and martial artist," the statement read. Also:
- mixed martial arts