MMA Fighter Sam Vasquez Died of Severe Brain Injury Suffered in Bout

Autopsy results on Sam Vasquez, a Houston mixed martial arts fighter who died on November 30, confirm that the cause of death was a severe brain injury suffered in an October 20 bout. Vasquez, who was fighting professionally for the third time, is the only competitor ever to die from injuries sustained in a sanctioned MMA fight in the United States.

Steve Sievert of the Houston Chronicle reports:

The official ruling from the medical examiner's office stated that Vasquez died of "complications from blunt trauma to the head with subdural hemorrhage." Due to a significant backlog of cases at the medical examiner's office, it took four months to complete the necessary tests to determine definitively the cause of death.

A subdural hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel bursts and blood builds up between the brain and its outer lining, which exerts pressure on the brain.

Most subdural hemorrhages are triggered by impact to the head, resulting from a car accident or severe fall. It's an injury rarely seen in mixed martial arts.

Sievert quotes sports medicine specialist Dr. Johnny Benjamin as saying, "This type of injury is common in the 'regular world,' say when a person falls and hits their head, especially someone on a blood thinner. But in combat sports, this injury is very, very rare."

Vasquez was hospitalized after he was knocked out by Vince Libardi in the third round of their fight. He suffered a seizure after the fight and suffered a massive stroke while hospitalized. He was 35 years old and was survived by a wife and 7-year-old son.

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