By Ross Patterson
The Main Event of a competition in Brazil was called-off last month after two brain aneurysms were discovered in a pre-contest brain scan. The athlete has since undergone successful surgery.
Rafael “Coxinha” Barboza was competing for the featherweight title of Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) in Rio De Janeiro. The event was sanctioned by CABMMA, Brazil’s regulatory body, which requires brain scans before granting athlete licenses.
Following an MRA, Barboza was discovered to have two potentially lethal aneurysms. The medical committee, made up of doctors from the Association of Ringside Physicians, decided it was unsafe for Rafael to compete.
The CEO of CABMMA, Cristiano Sampaio said:
“As a regulatory body our priority is all about the health and safety of the fighters. That has been our mission for the past decade. Every year we detect adverse findings in all exams we request… We can reduce the risk of the sport and sometimes even save lives.”
Twenty-four-year-old Barboza (14-4) was set to face Jonas Bilharinho (9-1) in a 5-round, 25 minute contest for the vacant Featherweight belt. Promising a large audience, streamed on UFC Fight Pass, the contest between Barboza and Bilharinho was the finale of the 12-match card. José Delano (10-2) replaced Barboza in the headliner and beat Bilharinho for the LFA Featherweight Championship.
Comissão Atlética Brasileira de MMA (CABMMA) is one of the oldest, and best established commissions in the world. They have been sending athletes to competitions since the inaugural IMMAF World Championships in 2014. The commission sanctions both professional and amateur MMA events in Brazil, ensuring medical standards and granting licenses for athletes to compete.
For an athlete to secure a license, they must undergo a variety of tests, including blood, eye, pregnancy, and crucially, in this case, brain scans. It was from these tests Rafael’s aneurysms were discovered.
After consulting further medical professionals, it was decided he would undergo brain surgery, which he is currently recovering from.
“He went through all the mandatory exams we request for a license. We had a finding in one the brain exams (MRA) of two aneurysms. This was the first time he did the exam.”
It is not clear where Rafael received the aneurysms. They could have come through training, in a previous contest, or out-with the sport. Regardless, an athlete cannot compete with a bleed on the brain.
Mr Sampaio added, “Hopefully the young athlete will be back in training in the near future and can compete again.”