Before there were legendary referee’s like “Big” John McCarthy, there was Helio Vigio, who was the first ever referee to officiate a bout in the UFC. In fact, he officiated four bouts at UFC 1. Unfortunately, Vigio has passed away after a long battle with cancer, but his cause of death is kidney failure.
Vigio had spent the last 15 days in a Rio De Janeiro (Brazil) hospital due to complications from his cancer battle, PVT was the first to report the referee’s passing. Vigio was 82 years old at the time of his passing.
Besides officiating the first ever event in Ultimate Fighting Championship history, Vigio officiated several other important events in combat sports history, such as a jiu-jitsu clash between Royce Gracie (who won UFC 1) and Wallid Ismail. He was also an official for the historical 1984 Vale Tudo event in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Besides being a long time combat sports official, Vigio was a longtime police officer in Brazil and he earned a red belt in jiu-jitsu from Carlson Gracie.
It has been nearly 20 years since Vigio last officiated an event, his funeral will be taking place today at the Memorial Do Carmo cemetery in Rio De Janeiro.