Naperville fights to restrict MMA events; Mixed Martial Arts cage fighting fought against by suburban city council

December 3, 2013 (NAPERVILLE, Ill.)

Organizers say mixed martial arts is no different than any other sport, but some Naperville City Council members however apparently believe otherwise.

Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Promoters say cage fighting is tightly regulated by the state and safer than many other sports.

But some Naperville city council members want no part of it. In September they turned down a request by the owners of players indoor sports to use a city parking lot to accommodate fans so they could host a match.

"They made it to be blood sport, we're having Fight Club, but it's a state regulated," said Doug Kluener, Players Indoor Sports.

But it was not to be.

"I don't think it's an image we want," said Paul Hinterlong, Naperville City Council. "We decided not to have tattoo parlors, we decided not to have video gambling. I rank this right up there. I don't think it's an image Naperville needs."

The City Council voted overwhelmingly to deny the use of the lot and the promoters took the event elsewhere.

Now the XFO, Extreme Fighting Organization, is hoping to host matches in Naperville, as well. By state law they can, but the city is considering limiting the hours to daytime and prohibiting liquor sales, which would effectively force organizes to go elsewhere.

"We've been around since 2004 and at no point since then has there been any instance of extracurricular activity outside of an event or a venue. It's a great family environment," said Mike Herron, XFO.

Area residents have mixed reactions.

"I have to drive hours just to get to an event," Chris Gatrel said. "I'm a huge fan of it and having it in Naperville would be a lot closer."

"It doesn't sound like a family kind of event," said Collette Presnak. "I would think there would be other places they could have it, there's other cities."

When they voted on it in September, Mayor George Pradel was the only one who voted in favor of having the fights in Naperville. No current city council members have made themselves to be interviewed.

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