Autopsy results confirm that Mixed Martial Arts fighter Michael Kirkham died Monday from injuries suffered during a Saturday night bout at the USC Aiken Convocation Center. The autopsy revealed that Kirkham died from a brain hemorrhage resulting from multiple blows to the head during the bout. It was Kirkham’s first professional bout. He had participated in several amateur fights. Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton reported that the death has been ruled an accident. Kirkham was rushed to the hospital Saturday night after being knocked unconscious. The Gaston native never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 8:25 a.m. Monday. Authorities will examine blood samples in order to prepare a toxicology report. Kirkham was not wearing protective head gear during the fight. Authorities also want to examine video from the fight from the State Athletic Commission.
South Carolina law has prevented organized MMA-style competition until last summer, when state legislators approved a measure allowing the State Athletic Commission to regulate the bouts. South Carolina Athletic Commission spokesperson Lisa Kudelka says the commission has in place specific criteria that an athlete must meet before fighting in the state. Kirkham becomes the second fighter to die after to participating in a sanctioned MMA event. In 2007, Sam Vazquez died in November of 2007 after slipping into a 42-day coma shortly after an MMA bout in Houston, Texas in October 2007.