Brazilian bantamweight Mateus Fernandes, 22, died hours after an amateur MMA fight in Manaus, Brazil, on Saturday night.
Fernandes competed in the first bout of the night at Remulus Fight, an MMA event sanctioned by the Amazonas Athletic Commission (CAMMA), losing via third-round TKO after his opponent, Obed Pereira, dropped him with a combination of punches. Fernandes was hit with another punch on the ground before the referee stopped the contest.
Fernandes trained out of Formando Campeoes, a social project that focused on helping people with drug addiction through martial arts. Project coordinator Vanderluce Cantuarias, wife of coach Valmir Dieb, told MMA Fighting that the coroner’s report showed that Fernandes’ death was caused by an alleged overdose, not by the damage sustained in the fight.
“He did exams on Friday and was clean, but ex-students told us later that he spent the night using drugs,” Cantuarias said. “He didn’t appear to have used anything. He was sweating a lot, but that is common, the adrenaline of the fight. He did great in the first couple of rounds, but was rocked in the third round and went down, and then he started having seizures caused by the drugs.”
Video footage shows the entire sequence. Fernandes can be seen still awake for a moment before he appears to pass out. A doctor is checking on the fighter for a minute before the video ends.
Fernandes was taken to a local hospital and suffered multiple heart attacks, dying at 11:45 p.m. local time, CAMMA president Wallace Alves told MMA Fighting.
“I’m feeling numb right now, really upset,” Alves said. “He was rushed to the hospital and had his eyes open the entire time. He was dizzy, but still awake. He was examined in the hospital and then suffered the first heart failure. They tried to save him for two hours, but he ended up dying.”
Per CAMMA rules, amateur bouts have three-minute rounds and elbows and knees are illegal. Alves said that the commission only required blood exams to tests for HIV and hepatitis for pre-fight medical clearance. Fernandes did not have his heart and brain checked prior to the event, Alves said.
Remulus Fight promoter Romulo Lobo did not respond a request for comment. Speaking with local news outlet M2 News, Lobo said the promotion is assisting Fernandes’ family and will fulfill all legal responsibilities.