Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten said an autopsy today revealed “no obvious, glaring cause of death” for a mixed martial arts fighters who collapsed during a bout Saturday in Mount Pleasant.
Wooten said no major trauma was visible on 30-year-old Tyrone Mims of Georgia, who participated in the second fight Saturday night of “Fight Night at the Point VI” at the Omar Shrine Temple’s Convention Center at Patriots Point.
Further testing, including microscopic exams of tissue and cell studies, could reveal otherwise. That could take weeks.
Before the skirmish, the fighter took the painkiller Percocet, according to an incident report by the Mount Pleasant Police Department. Toxicology testing should reveal whether it played a role.
“I just don’t have a definitive answer at this time,” Wooten said. “Unfortunately, it’s going to remain a very sad mystery at this point.”
Mims was in charge of his debut appearance as an MMA fighter.
He hadn’t absorbed a single blow from his opponent, Blake Poore. Know as “Teestea,” the amateur fighter was the one doing the hitting in this sport that combines martial arts, boxing, wrestling and kickboxing.
After the first round, the referees considered declaring him the winner.
But about five minutes in, Mims lost steam. Exhaustion overwhelmed him. He was relegated to the “bottom position,” said an expert sitting ringside.
He started taking punches and kicks, unable to free himself. The referee ended the match in the second round and declared Poore the winner.
“He wasn’t being hit hard; he was simply not bettering his position,” said Blake Grice of Anderson, an MMA referee who was scheduled to officiate several fights later in the evening. “It was a textbook stoppage. But he wasn’t hurt. He was just tired.”
Mims smiled and told a doctor he was OK but needed rest. He answered questions coherently. With help, he walked to the locker room around 8:30 p.m., where he removed his gloves and drank water.
But within minutes, he began talking gibberish and breathing heavily. He passed out. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but the father of five died an hour later at Medical University Hospital.
His death was the second in South Carolina’s MMA community since 2009, when lawmakers created the Athletic Commission to regulate combative sports, but it’s unknown whether it was directly related to the fight. State officials said Monday that Mims underwent the required pre-fight exams, but his death has prompted some to call for tighter regulations.
Mims had trained for months at The Augusta Fight Club and was featured on “Georgia Boys Grits N’ Glory,” an upcoming reality show chronicling fighters’ struggle to turn pro.
The show’s production manager, Rich Seidlitz, said Monday that it was Mims’ way of turning away from a life on the streets.
“He was able to channel something that could have been violent into something that was a sport,” Seidlitz said. “He wanted to use this as a vehicle to provide for his family.”
Read more at postandcourier.com and in tomorrow’s newspaper.