Michael Kirkham is the third MMA related casualty raising ethical issues. Kirkham passed away on June 28, 2010 having suffered severe injuries during a MMA fight on Saturday, June 26, 2010 held in South Carolina. This was the second MMA related death within the U.S. and third world wide, following the tragic deaths of fellow fighters Douglas Dedge and Sam Vasquez.
Kirkham's death raises the ethical debate regarding the brutality of the sport. Critics render MMA the human version of dogfighting set to feed the bloodthirsty, while supporters and fans find the sport one requiring strength, skill, and stamina. Kirkham was the third person to die as a result of injuries sustained within the cage in the 17 year long history of professional MMA matches.
In a recent interview with ESPN's Jake Rossen, Dr. Michael Schwartz, chairman of the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians, stated "when people ask how I work in the sport as a physician, where the goal is to concuss the other person, I tell them to look at the outcomes, not the intent. There are so many more injuries in football than there are in boxing and MMA, but because the 'intent' isn't to knock the guy out, football's OK. Well, when you look at the outcome, MMA is actually safer than auto racing, football, or skydiving. The intent in those sports is not to die, but guess what? People do."