Douglas Dedge (June 18, 1966 – March 18, 1998) was an American mixed martial artist who was the first known American competitor to be fatally injured in an MMA fight and the first death in the modern era of professional MMA.
The fatal bout occurred at the International Super Challenge in Kiev, Ukraine on March 16, 1998 against Yevgeni Zolotarev. Dedge attempted a takedown but was mounted and took 14 punches to the head before tapping out. He stood up after the fight but almost immediately collapsed and died two days later from severe brain injuries at the Kiev Institute of Neurosurgery. Friends later said they witnessed Dedge black out during training for the fight.
The limited-rules event was billed as a "Ukraine Against the World" contest and drew about 4,000 spectators. To field the opposition, labeled the "World Team," promoters circulated invitations on the Internet that guaranteed potential competitors travel and stay expenses, as well as $2,000 for fighting and an additional $3,000 to win. Dedge was one of three American fighters on the show.
In the immediate aftermath of Dedge's death, Ultimate Fighting Championship co-founder Art Davie, who had been fired by the organization at the end of 1997, wrote a letter to UFC owner Bob Meyrowitz (also sent to MMA opponent Senator John McCain) asking him to "reconsider" the promotion of MMA in light of the Dedge incident. Davie had just become affiliated with kickboxing promotion K-1 and became vice-president of K-1 USA. Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter commented that Davie's motives for writing the letter "can and will be questioned greatly." Meyrowitz, speaking for the UFC, said the death was "an example of why we have been asking for regulation of this sport by athletic commissions in the U.S. as well as internationally."
The German industrial project KiEw used samples from a report about Dedge's death in their song Feierabend in Kiev (happy hour in Kiev).
- An earlier death was that of Alfredo Castro Herrera, age 15, who died in April 1981 following a match in Tijuana, Mexico in April 1981. The bout was reported by Associated Press to have been a combination of boxing with karate and judo. St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 15, 1981, p. 16D.
- Death in MMA competition. Douglas Dedge vs Yevgeni Zolotarev (flv). Video.google.com. 1998-03-16. Archived from the original on 2011-08-20.
- "American dies from injuries in 'ultimate fight': Bout in Ukrainian capital lasted less than five minutes". The Ottawa Citizen. 1998-03-19. pp. B8.
- Meltzer, Dave, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, March 30, 1998, pp. 1-2.
- Hall, Joe (2007-12-07). "The Death of Douglas Dedge". Sherdog.com. Evolve Media Corp. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- "ARENA: SPORTS BRIEFING". Rocky Mountain News. Denver Publishing Company. 1998-03-19. pp. 2C.
- "American dies in fight". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. P.G. Publishing Co. 1998-03-19. pp. A-4.