Blunt force trauma to the head caused a 26-year-old Sturgis mixed martial arts fighter's death one week after a competition in May, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday by the Pennington County Sheriff's Office.
Dustin Jenson was participating in a full-contact fight during a RingWars event May 18 at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City when he tapped out — a signal to end the fight. Jenson then watched the next two fights before going to the locker room, where he suffered a seizure, his mother-in-law has said.
He died May 24 at Rapid City Regional Hospital.
The autopsy indicated the cause of death was a subdural hemorrhage resulting from blunt force trauma to the head. A subdural hemorrhage is a collection of blood on the surface of the brain and often causes brain injury and death.
The cause was related to an injury about a week earlier, according to the autopsy. The Sheriff's Office said there is no conclusive evidence the injury was sustained in the fight.
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Jenson, a husband and father, was participating in only his fifth fight since taking up the sport less than a year ago.
MMA is a full-contact combat sport that allows the use of striking and grappling techniques, standing as well as on the ground. It can take place in a ring or a cage that is often eight-sided. The sport has gained popularity in local events such as RingWars as well as in national pay-per-view events.
South Dakota has no governing body overseeing boxing or MMA. Dean Schrempp, a state legislator representing Corson, Dewey and Ziebach counties, has advocated for a governing body and said Jenson would still be alive had there been one in place.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard disagrees, saying a commission would lead to more fights and therefore more injuries and deaths.