Minister of Sport Michael Ring has pledged to regulate mixed martial arts in Ireland, following the death of Joao Carvalho in Dublin on Monday night.
Carvalho, who lost to Dubliner Charlie Ward at a Total Extreme Fighting event in Dublin on Saturday night, passed away after spending 48 hours in critical condition at Beaumont Hospital.
The Portuguese fighter was checked by doctors at the National Stadium in the aftermath of the fight before undergoing emergency brain surgery, but doctors were unable to save him.
"Cleary there’s a problem and I’m not going to wash my hands of it," Ring said on RTÉ Radio 1's Today with Sean O'Rourke.
"What I’m going to do now is ask the officials within the department and I’m going to ask John Treacy in Sports Ireland to see what we can do to try and regulate this sport.
"I don’t think it’s a sport that’s going to go away."
The Minister added that many sports, regulated by Sport Ireland, are funded in this country but MMA is not one of these.
Ring claimed that he wrote to 17 operators in February 2014 saying he expected safety standards would be complied with.
"Two years ago I saw this danger coming down the line" - Michael Ring
However, he believes the problem is that MMA is not regulated or affiliated to Sport Ireland and he revealed that he has had concerns over the sport for some time.
"In Ireland every sport, GAA, rugby, boxing, whatever it is, they have national governing bodies that are affiliated to Sport Ireland. We fund many sports in this country and to fund these sports they first of all have to have a code of practice.
"This particular sport is not regulated, has not looked for regulation and has not look to be part of the Sports Ireland program. They are not getting any funding from the state.
"Two years ago I saw this danger coming down the line. I’ve had many meetings with people who are concerned about this and I wrote to these professional bodies.
"This is not an amateur sport, this is a professional sport run by professional operators. I wrote to 17 operators in February of 2014, outlining to them that I expect the safety standards that exist in other sports in Ireland, that they would comply with this regulations."
The Minister believes that the fragmented nature of MMA in Ireland has added to the problems of safety and that the lack of an overall governing body for the sport is making things more difficult to deal with.
"They are not regulated, they are not regulated with the Sports Council, so we need to bring in some kind of regulation.
"If there’s any other major sporting event in the country, there’s national governing bodies, they have their own rules and regulations and their own safety standards.
"Whoever is hosting that event has to comply with those safety standards and we need to bring in some kind of regulation to deal with this new phenomenon."
Ring also added that that he finds MMA very difficult to watch and it is something that he would not like to see his family or friends engaging in.
"Personally I find it a very difficult sport to support,” he said.
“It’s not a sport that I would go and see myself, it’s not a sport that I would like to see my children or grandchildren or anybody else take part in and it’s not a sport that I’d like to see role models to be following.
"I have watched not very much of it because I couldn’t spend too long watching that kind of sport. In recent fights you see both fighters on the stage and blood spilling out of them and them on the ground and beating the head off one another."
Sport Ireland released a statement on the issue, which read: “Regardless of the relationship with Sport Ireland or any statutory authority, the primary responsibility for health and safety for an event rests with the organiser and the relevant governing body.
“Any review of the tragic events of last Saturday should be carried out by relevant authorities. That does not include Sport Ireland as it does not recognise MMA in any form.
“Sport Ireland will work with the Department of Sport to establish how MMA operates in Ireland and under what regulatory framework it may operate in the future.
“Sport Ireland has had no formal engagement with any organisation representing MMA on recognition to date.”