Fighter Dies After Making Pro Debut at Pro/Am Card

Posted on June 28, 2010


Kirkham (left) was nicknamed "Tree" due to his unusually tall and gaunt frame. (Picture:

Michael Kirkman, a 6’9″ native of Gaston, S.C. who fought at lightweight, has passed away following injuries sustained from a mixed Professional and Amateur fight card in Aiken, South Carolina at the age of 30.

The event was overseen and sanctioned by the South Carolina State Athletic Commission.

Kirkham is believed to have died as a result of a brain hemorrhage he received during his fight on Saturday night, which he lost due to referee stoppage after he was mounted and hit with strikes.

After not regaining consciousness in the cage, Kirkham was taken to a local hospital where he was put on life support. He succumbed to his injuries on Monday morning, with doctors at the hospital confirming that he had not regained consciousness while under their care.

Kirkham entered the fight with an amateur record of 3 wins and 3 losses. He had recently posted on his MySpace page that he had sufficient medical clearance and was willing to take a fight anywhere. According to that same profile, good friend and training partner Brett Lee had recently passed away on March 10th. Lee’s cause of death was undisclosed.

Kirkham’s death is only the second to occur as the result of a sanctioned MMA bout. In 2007, Sammy Vasquez passed away after being on life support for 42 days after a professional MMA bout.

An autopsy will be performed on Tuesday.

Kirkham ran his own training academy and did not appear to have, or disclose, any formal training in combat sports.

Kirkham leaves behind a wife and children. My deepest condolences to them and all Kirkham’s loved ones during what must be an unspeakably tragic time for them.

Ray Hui of has more information, including a video of one of Kirkham’s amateur bouts.