The Naperville City Council has not yet moved to ban mixed-martial arts, but the idea of holding a fight in the city still may be down for the count.
Faced with opposition from the council, organizers of a fight originally scheduled for Oct. 19 at Players Indoor Sports have instead combined their event with one on Oct. 5 in McCook.
Meanwhile, Naperville staff members are developing options including banning mixed-martial arts competitions, regulating alcohol sales at such events and setting up licensing or location requirements. The city council is set to begin considering those options at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, in the municipal center, 400 S. Eagle St.
City Manager Doug Krieger said the cancellation of the Oct. 19 fight gave legal staff more time to study how to legislate a possible ban on mixed-martial arts fighting events like the one Rich Sildal's company American Predator Fighting Championship wanted to host in town.
Sildal said the Naperville councilmen who objected not only to his request to use a vacant city lot as parking for the Oct. 19 event, but also to the idea of allowing any type of mixed-martial arts event in town "seemed to me to be uneducated about the sport." He said he wishes the city would reconsider and research the sport known as MMA before prohibiting it.
"I'm not a spokesman to advocate why to put MMA in your community. I will help to advocate it, but I own a business," Sildal said. "I can't take the time to try to convince somebody to put the fastest-growing sport in the world into your community."
Paul Hinterlong was the first to object to the fight, which would have brought an estimated 2,000 spectators to town and would have included fighting, music and alcohol sales.
"Naperville has always had a good moral compass. This doesn't fit within what's always been the norm for Naperville," Hinterlong said Wednesday. "I don't think it fits here."
Sildal said mixed-martial arts is sanctioned by a state commission and fighters are professional athletes who undergo physicals, use safety equipment and compete in weight classes as they combine elements of boxing, wrestling and jiu jitsu.
"It takes all your combative arts and makes it one and it's more realistic," Sildal said. "It starts with self-defense and the martial arts of respect, discipline, integrity. We're showcasing someone's ability of how good they are."
If Naperville councilmen move forward with banning or limiting mixed-martial arts, Sildal said they also should consider how their actions could affect martial arts training studios that might offer MMA classes or workout sessions. Hinterlong said MMA training is not a concern, and a report from Naperville's legal department said it is expected to go on without additional regulations.
Sildal said American Predator Fighting Championship wanted to hold the Oct. 19 event in Naperville to bring a growing form of entertainment to a busy suburban community. But when faced with the possibility of a ban that could be enacted before the fight, he opted to take his business elsewhere.
"If we're wanted, we'll be there. If not, we won't cause problems," Sildal said. "I'm not here to fight with somebody to try to educate them."