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Wednesday, March 18, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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American Dies Of `Ultimate Fighting' Injuries

The AP

KIEV, Ukraine - An American died today of injuries suffered in a bout of no-holds-barred "ultimate fighting," a mix of martial arts, wrestling and boxing.

Douglas Dedge, 31, of Chipley, Fla., was hospitalized Monday night after collapsing in the ring in Kiev. He died of severe brain injuries, said Petro Spasichenko, chief emergency-ward doctor at Kiev's Institute of Neurosurgery.

Dedge, who is survived by a wife and five children, had founded a school to teach the sport in Enterprise, Ala., said Danny Ray, a close friend who traveled with him to Ukraine.

Ray said the fight lasted less than five minutes.

Dedge, on the mat, had taken a series of punches to the head but was still "defending himself well" when the referee called the fight, Ray said. Dedge stood up, but collapsed a few seconds later and was not breathing.

He was one of three U.S. fighters who took part in the competition, which brought a large crowd to a Kiev arena. The sport is popular in the former Soviet Union, where it is called "Battle Without Rules."

Ultimate fighting has drawn fire in the United States from critics who say it is too dangerous, and some states have banned it.

"We consider his death a tragic accident that disturbs us greatly," said Yuri Smetanin, a fight organizer.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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