Earlier this year, the general manager of the Utah Valley Convention Center and a fight promoter asked the Provo City Council to change the law so they could host mixed-martial arts fights at the downtown events center. But instead of voting to allow the fights — estimated to bring $15,000 to $30,000 in economic activity to downtown Provo, with two fights per year — the council made sure to close any loopholes that would allow the events.
Provo city law requires participants in organized fighting events to wear safety gear, including gloves, headgear and a mouthpiece. MMA fighters don’t wear headgear, so that meant MMA events couldn’t be held in the city without a change. MMA fights were a subject of discussion at several meetings, including a regular council meeting in April. But the majority of council members opposed having organized MMA fights in Provo.
So instead, on Tuesday they voted 6–1 (with Councilman Hal Miller opposed) to close a loophole that would allow the mayor to authorize MMA events on city property, as long as certain safety requirements were met. There was no comment from the public at the Tuesday night meeting — MMA was the last item on the agenda, after an hours-long discussion about bus rapid transit.
Opponents of MMA events have argued that the sport is violent, that fight participants aren’t safe, that the violent events are marketed to children, that participants are offensive and that MMA crowds get too rowdy.
New York is the only state in the country where MMA fights aren’t allowed, according to a Provo City staff report. The fights are even allowed in Orem — an MMA event by Showdown Fights is scheduled at the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University on June 28.