The St. Clair County Medical Examiners office in Port Huron issued a press release Tuesday stating that Felix Nchikwo had a cardiac arrhythmic disorder that caused sudden cardiac death. An arrhythmia is a change in the regular beat of the heart and is not considered to be a heart attack.
The press release said Felix Nchikwo collapsed shortly after a MMA fight in Port Huron on April 7, 2013 and was taken to Port Huron Hospital for treatment. He died a short time later.
The 35-year-old resident of Hamilton, Ont., who fought under the name Felix Pablo Elochukwu, lasted three rounds in the ring. Officials stopped the fight when Nchikwo showed signs he was having difficulty defending himself.
"He just had an MMA fight and he got a little exhausted and the fight was stopped," said Rick Joslin, founder of Joslin's Martial Arts, the gym where Nchikwo trained.
"He was perfectly alright. He just got tired at the end, got a little dizzy. They gave him some juice and then he collapsed forward."
Joslin said Nchikwo, born in Nigeria, was a nice man who was quiet. "But he was a big boy and I think maybe the over-exertion from the fight was a little too much for him at that time.”
The AFC confirmed Nchikwo's death on its Facebook page.
"We lost a member of our MMA family and we would like to take this time to honour him," the posting read.
"This is a tragic turn of events. We will keep his family and friends in our prayers and we ask you to do the same. May God be with them in this devastating time of loss.”
Studied in Newfoundland
Nchikwo was living in Canada on a student visa. He had been studying at Memorial University in Newfoundland before moving to Hamilton about two years ago to pursue a career in MMA.
He was employed as a private security guard for a DJ who worked in several clubs on George Street, a hub for nightlife in St. John's.
“He came into our lives out of the blue, then he became a friend very quickly and he was well respected,” said Seamus Dooley, 26, who runs Flo Lounge, a bar where Nchikwo became a familiar face. "I would describe him as a gentle giant, no doubt."
Nchikwo got interested in MMA after a friend told him he'd be good at the sport, Dooley said.
“The more he looked into it, the more excited he got about it.”