In his final interview just hours before his death, mixed-martial arts fighter Tyrone Mims was upbeat and smiling.
“I’m ready to fight,” the 30-year-old father of five said, smiling at the camera operator. “I want to get this show on the road.”
Mims, of Augusta, was getting ready to fight Blake Poore of Charleston Saturday night at the Omar Shrine Convention Center in Mount Pleasant.
Observers said Mims appeared fine during the fight, other than getting tired, but collapsed in the locker room afterward and soon died.
A ringside doctor said there was no sign that anything in the fight contributed to Mims’ death.
Reflecting Pool Productions was filming Mims and other members of The Augusta Fight Club for a TV reality show called “Georgia Boys: Grits and Glory.” Executive Producer Mark Crump released some of the video Thursday, as part of his effort to raise money for Mims’ family.
Mims, known as Teesta, jokingly called himself Teesta the Terror in the interview. He said it with a big smile that hinted at the easygoing nature friends said he always exhibited.
“I got my moms and them down here,” he said in the video interview. “They’re down here supporting me, yeah. So I got a lot of people from Augusta coming. They gonna support me.”
The video shows Mims training at the Augusta gym, with his coach urging him on. Then somebody asks him about injuries.
“Injuries. Have you had injuries that we need to be concerned about at the gym?”
Crump said this question was asked about a week before the fight in Mount Pleasant.
Mims answers, “None, never.”
The clip ends with Mims smiling at the camera and saying, “Teesta the Terror.”
There was no sign of trauma that could have caused his death, according to the Charleston County coroner. Tissue studies that might reveal a clue aren’t expected for at least a month.
A police report said Mims was seen taking the narcotic painkiller Percocet before the fight, although it’s not clear why he might have needed it.
Mims was the fourth MMA fighter to die shortly after a fight in the past five years, and the second to die in South Carolina since the combat sport was legalized in 2009.
Fighters have pointed out that that is a lower death rate than many other sports, including football and boxing. But the death revived a debate over whether the sport is too brutal and whether it is regulated well enough in South Carolina.
State law requires every fighter to get a thorough annual physical and to get checked out before and after each fight, and the state Athletic Commission said those rules are enforced.
Fighters and promoters said those requirements are being exceeded, including making sure fighters go up only against equal opponents.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.