First and foremost, our thoughts are with the entire family and friends for their tragic event. This is the dark side of combat sports, something we all know is possible in the back of our minds as fans, something the fighters know better than anyone, and something that doesn’t really get brought up a lot until a tragedy like this strikes another victim. Tim Hague fought in the UFC for almost exactly one year, where he went 1-3. After a victory over Pat Barry, he lost his next 3 bouts and returned to the regional scene. He later returned to the UFC for a second stint. This sport is full of journeymen who may not be in the spotlight anymore, or fighting on the big cards, but they’ve still got to earn a living, they’re still out there taking damage, and often the support systems in place to protect them are much weaker.
The really scary part of this story is how many different people dropped the ball.
- He was fighting in a boxing match, and allegedly against someone with a lot more boxing experience than him. That’s strike one.
- Before that fateful boxing match, he had been knocked out on August 29th, 2015, December 18, 2015, March 4, 2016, and July 15, 2016 in MMA. That’s something you have to look at when you’re sanctioning a fight. Also two months prior to the fight that ultimately ended up putting him in critical condition, he had been knocked out and medically suspended. Fighting 2 months after a KO is too soon. Update: Apparently he has fights that aren’t listen on Sherdog as well, and that he had been KO’d 8 times in two years. That’s strike 2.
- During the boxing match, he had allegedly also been knocked down 4 or 5 times while the fight continued, which once again – that’s too much. Strike 3.
We’re not pointing fingers, and we can only imagine everyone close to him, including the people who were in his corner that night, are absolutely DEVASTATED. We would never claim anyone had any malicious intentions, of course, and this has a lot more to do with that old school grit and gym culture that comes from an era in MMA when we didn’t know as much as we know today about brain damage. There’s still a lot more that needs to be learned, but simply things like really taking a chunk of time off after being knocked out are so, so, so important. We shouldn’t need wake up calls and reminders that are this tragic.
But that’s not a free pass either. People seriously messed up that night, and now a man is fighting for his life. You can’t simply say “Oh that’s gym culture, it’s bad” because there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s 2017, we know better than this by now.
We’ve all seen fights that should have been called sooner, and it makes you wonder “What if?” and this is the worse case scenario. This is why we need referees, athletic commissions, and coaches/corners who are going to say enough is enough when they see a fighter in great danger.
Via Mike Russell’s Twitter (an MMA journalist):
“Hague was suspended 60 days from his last KO from Apr 7-June 6. BUT 7 KOs between Aug. 2015 – now should have been considered.”
UPDATE: There are now sources contradicting Mike Russell’s claims, stating that Tim is in critical condition but hasn’t been declared brain dead.
We don’t mean to turn the reporting of this tragic event into a rant about protecting fighters, but times like this are the opportunity to spread more awareness, especially to all the younger up and coming fighters who read this site.
Fighter and friend Cody Krahn says UFC veteran and Canadian Tim Hague is currently in a coma & needed brain surgery. Keep the prayers coming pic.twitter.com/ox3nzRdMoQ
— James Lynch (@LynchOnSports) June 17, 2017
When you have guys in their mid to late 30’s or even 40’s who have been KO’d plenty of times and are still competing, say at the highest level in the UFC and making a fortune, the risk starts to make a little more sense. You have professional doctors, higher-level and more experienced referees, and massive pay days after working their way up to that point their entire careers. For guys fighting on regional cards for table scraps, where things are a lot looser, it’s just really a bummer.
At one point in the boxing match, he shot for a double leg. He was clearly out of it, clearly concussed, and the fight CLEARLY should have been stopped sooner.
We seriously debated including the video of the fight or not, but this is reality. This happened. People messed up, and something horrific happened. If seeing this video can make one person reconsider fighting too soon after a KO, or can make one future ref think twice before allowing a fight to go on too soon, or can put some pressure on the local athletic commission or whoever allowed this fight to take place… GOOD.
Because pretending this doesn’t happen, or can’t happen, isn’t going to help anybody.
But we’re putting it on the next page, so that anyone who wishes to avoid seeing it can do so.
RIP Tim Hague.
This comes on the heels of more and more MMA fighters, big name fighters, choosing to retire as the consequences of being hit repeatedly in the head come to light. They don’t want to be on the wrong end of a bad shot, but also, they don’t want to be the ones who are responsible for ending someone’s career, let alone life, either.
It’s a sad, tragic reality of combat sports. The fighters know what they’re getting themselves into, they know it better than anyone else, but they still rely on a number of outside forces to protect them and keep them safe, and it’s hard to argue that Tim wasn’t let down along the way by multiple entities.