Mixed feelings on Mix Martial Arts: The city bans MMA fights in Saint John

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Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a controversial sport that has raised its violent, yet somehow entertaining, head across Canada. Atlantic cities such as Moncton and Saint John are no exception to this growing trend.

Moncton has been hosting MMA fights and it has been extremely popular in the hub city. Edward Hoyt, owner of Hoyco Productions, is interested in hosting MMA fights in Saint John but was turned down by the city.

The Criminal Code of Canada forbids prize fights, such as MMA, other than boxing, unless there is a Boxing and Wrestling Commission set in place to ensure that the safety codes are followed. Since Saint John does not have a commission like Moncton, fights are not permitted in the port city.

Some believe that MMA is too violent and should not be allowed in Saint John. “MMA is violent, that’s the appeal to most people and a turn off to some,” says Justin Young, an MMA fighter from Sussex, “[it’s] not for everybody but everyday it becomes a passion for more and more people,” making it one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

Young has competed in Moncton and believes it could be a good thing for Saint John as well. “When there’s [an] MMA event, hotels […], restaurants, and bars [all benefit]. It gets people into the city and hopefully coming back,” says Young.

Mike Melvin is a supporter of MMA and the co-owner of the Okuden gym in Saint John. He also believes MMA events would be good for the city. “Having events in the city builds a strong community,” says Melvin, “which creates an opportunity for young people to have something to work towards and experience growth.”

Ray Strowbridge is a city councillor who supports MMA and is challenging the city’s decision not to allow these events to take place. For now the city council has put a hold on this issue. “It will take a good deal of pushing for them to revisit it any time soon” says Melvin.