Irish UFC fighter retired over disability fears raised by brain scan

Aisling Daly has retired from professional Mixed Martial Arts after a brain scan revealed fears of a potential disability if she continued fighting, writes Stephen Barry.

Ireland’s only female UFC fighter, ‘Ais the Bash’ announced her retirement on Monday after that scan showed up a “small brain haemorrhage”.

Her doctor told the pioneering MMA star that the risk was too high of more damage potentially occurring to the same area from participating in combat sport, which could lead to a disability.

Aisling Daly, left, in action in 2015 against Ericka Almeida at the 3Arena. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

“I had a small brain haemorrhage at some point between this routine scan and the one I had a few months previously. I don’t know what time it happened and I don’t know whether it was related to an actual fight, or sparring in training, or whether I banged my head off a shelf in the house,” Daly said on RTÉ Radio 1’s Ryan Tubridy Show.

“I had no ill effects from it, but going forward that slight bit of damage to my brain makes it more likely that small area could be damaged again and I might not be so lucky next time.

“My doctor, Professor Dan Healy at Beaumont Hospital, said ‘The risk is too great’.

“With these type of things, it’s not so much that you might die from it, it’s usually disability that you’d be left with.

“Whichever area of your brain that becomes damaged, it’s that area of your brain that might die off. Whatever task that was responsible for performing isn’t going to happen anymore.

“It might mean the loss of a limb, or facial expression, or a change in personality, and I didn’t want to lose anything that makes Aisling Daly, Aisling Daly.

“You couldn’t pay any amount of money in the world to lose part of yourself.”

Daly, who has won 16 of her 22 fights, including her last bout in October 2015, retains her love for her profession and was the founder of SafeMMA Ireland.

She believes that the risks involved are simply a part of combat sport.

“There’s risks in any kind of high-contact, high-impact sport, and there’s risks if you don’t participate in any sport,” Daly continued.

“It’s a toss-up between having a healthy enjoyable lifestyle with risks and not living a healthy lifestyle and the risks associated with that.”

The Irish sporting authorities are yet to regulate MMA, despite Ireland being home to UFC champion Conor McGregor.

In April 2016, Portugese fighter João Carvalho died due to blunt force trauma sustained in a contest in Dublin, a tragedy which sparked calls for regulation.

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