Controversial Rumble

November 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Woodward Park played host to mixed martial arts and got a mixed response from the people of Fresno again Saturday night.I think it's fair to say the weather played a role in Saturday night's attendance. But despite a few sprinkles the fights went off without a hitch.

A couple thousand valley fans of mixed martial arts fighting traveled to the outdoor amphitheater in Woodward Park to witness punches, grapples and winners taking it all.

For many here this was their first time to see a sanctioned fight in person.

Rick Mirigian, promoter, says "You can see how diehard fans are. We escaped the rain and had a huge turnout."

Promoter Mirigian says three-thousand people bought tickets but this section of the amphitheater was completely desolate. Light rain earlier in the day and throughout the fights dampened the ground clearing out the space.

Still many families took the opportunity to educate their kids on fighting. But not everybody agrees mixed martial art is a good thing. Some valley parents and local officials say MMA is not a family event and has no place in Woodward Park.

Recently Christine Arbuckle took her concerns over the fights to city hall but learned her only support was from council member Brian Calhoun.

Mirigian says he's followed the city's rules for fights and has provided a safe environment for fans. "As you can see it's a mellow environment regardless... It's not a troublesome event," says Mirigian.

Fight fans say as long as they get to meet MMA superstars like Tito Ortiz and watch fights up close and personal they want more of it in the future. Michele Bugg, fan, says "It's great... I hope they come back again."

There are plans for future fights next year at Woodward Park. Those opposed to this sport in this public arena say they'll continue to fight to have it removed.

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