Ofa He Mooni Folau, 29, has pleaded guilty for his role in the assault which cost the life of New Zealand MMA fighter Fau Vake in May.
Vake, a father of one and a training partner of UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, died in hospital days after being the victim of a so-called ‘coward punch’ — where he was punched from behind while waiting for a late night taxi to his home.
According to RNZ, Folau admitted two charges of assault and will be sentenced at a hearing in August. Three further men have pleaded not guilty to charges ranging from assault to manslaughter. Their identities have not been revealed in the media.
Vake’s passing was a huge blow to New Zealand mixed martial arts, as well as the City Kickboxing gym at which he trained with Adesanya, Dan Hooker, Kai Kara France and many others. A recent court date discussing the matter saw several members of Vake’s gym attend the hearing wearing t-shirts bearing Vake’s image and name.
Furthermore, Adesanya dedicated his 185-pound title defence against Marvin Vettori to his fallen colleague. Brad Riddell, also victorious on the card, did the same.
Adesanya and Eugene Bareman, coach at City Kickboxing, have called for more stringent penalties for assaults such as this, with Adesanya telling the media ahead of the Vettori fight that he considered murder to be a more appropriate charge for those responsible for Vake’s death.
Vake, who was 25, is survived by his three-year old daughter and a crowd-funding campaign has been set up to help support her. You can view and donate at this link.