Sunday in Orlando, Lindsay Scheer fought Adrienne Simmons in the Muay Thai lightweight women's final of the International Kickboxing Federation National Amateur Tournament. The two women were not evenly matched. Lindsay Scheer won the fight. Adrienne Simmons died.
Muay Thai is a style of kickboxing that allows elbow and knee strikes, as well as kicks and punches. A tipster who was in attendance reports that during the fight,
Lindsay controlled the action, and actually forced the ref to issue 2 or 3 standing eight-counts (which are now banned in most states for boxing because they allow an otherwise lop-sided fight to continue). Despite being controlled and knocked down, Simmons hung in there and made it to the third and final round. In the final round, Scheer connected with a picture-perfect left-hook, which immediately caused Simmons to be knocked out and lose consciousness.
Simmons eventually slipped into a coma. She died Monday.
A doctor was on the premises according to a Facebook message written by Scheer and her trainer, Eric Haycraft (other reports dispute this), but an ambulance was not. Haycraft, said, "I've been a fighter, coach and trainer in this business for 20 years, and there is always an ambulance at every fight, professional or amateur."
According to Chike Lindsay-Ajudua, Simmons's boyfriend, it took over an hour for her to be driven to a hospital even though IKF president Steve Fossum claims to have arranged for an ambulance from a nearby firehouse to be on call. The IKF's website has a section of their coverage of the event set aside for debunking these and other rumors, but it's difficult to ascertain who is telling the closest thing to the truth.
However, Adrienne Simmons isn't dead simply because she suffered brain trauma and didn't receive prompt medical attention. She's dead in large part because she stepped into the ring in the first place.
Scheer and Simmons should never have fought because of a huge disparity in experience. Scheer played Division I soccer at Louisville and is a veteran of more than 20 fights around the world. Simmons, on the other hand, was not nearly as experienced, coming into the tournament with a 1-3 record, winning her other tournament matches on guile alone (the IKF page has a tournament bracket, among other things). It was something like taking a lineman off a high school JV team and expecting him to block Jared Allen.
Jake Rossen at ESPN's MMA blog brings up the death of Becky Zerlentes following a Golden Gloves tournament and smartly mentions that headgear—seen as a placating measure for critics, a "smoke screen"—can actually cause more damage during head injuries due to the added weight. The fact that the fighters had already fought multiple times throughout the weekend only increased the likelihood that something like this would happen. Kickboxing isn't inherently more dangerous than any other martial sport, but like anything, it can be brutal if you don't know what you're doing. And if the people charged with your well-being don't know either, it can be deadly.