City Council’s UFC Ban Gets Tweaked to Reflect State Law

A proposal to keep kids under 18 from watching MMA fights didn’t follow through as planned.

Two girls attended the UFC fight in Boston/Photo via Facebook.com

Two girls attended the UFC fight in Boston/Photo via Facebook.com

City Councilor Stephen Murphy has tapped out—for now.

The elected official made a push to try and ban anyone from under the age of 18 from attending Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, and cage fights, in the city of Boston.

But on Wednesday, just four days after the UFC made its return to Boston, hosting a nationally televised event at TD Garden for the first time since 2010, Murphy changed the language of his bill.

In the new version of Murphy’s proposal, which was passed by the full City Council on Wednesday afternoon, anyone under 16-years-old will not be able to attend a cage fight, or UFC event, in the city, unless they are with an adult. “The age change reflects information that was learned at the public hearing [earlier this month],” Murphy said of the new proposal.

During a meeting with union workers, parents, and several other organizations, in the week before the UFC came back to Boston, Murphy learned that there is already a state law on the books that requires kids 16 and under to be with a parent when at a match. “Does 16 do it for me? Yes, it does. This simply states to uphold state law right now. It’s a message to UFC and a message to [UFC president] Dana White,” Murphy said, adding that the rules will be sent to TD Garden staff and police.

During his time in Boston last week, White denounced the plans, saying the UFC and its fighters don’t promulgate violence, or set a bad example for children watching it. More than 12,000 fans attended the fight night at TD Garden last weekend, many of whom came with their kids as young as eight-years-old. White called the event a “success,” and vowed to return.

Proponents of the fist-throwing sport, who organized a Facebook page fighting back against Murphy’s original plan to ban anyone under 18 from the events, were pleased with the changes, but still not entirely enthused. “Our government— state, federal and local—is not the moral police. Glad to see they can worry about more important issues now,” one person wrote on the page, titled “Bring UFC to Massachusetts, Regulate MMA.”

The organizer of the page, which has over 10,000 fans, including the support of UFC officials, thanked active members of the group for writing in, and calling Murphy’s office to express their discontent, prior to the vote on Wednesday.

Murphy’s plan, which was backed by several local anti-violence groups, was part of a drawn out battle between the co-owners of the UFC, and a union based in Las Vegas.

White said the fight, which is allegedly over his partners not allowing the unionization of workers at a casino they have part ownership of, has caused the group, UNITE HERE, to follow the sporting league from city to city, trying to get scheduled bouts canceled, and smearing his name in the process.”Still, Murphy defended his resolution, which he aimed at White. “Our children see the actions of these fighters beyond the ring. The fighters train and sacrifice, the fighting organizations promote, and the public sees the results of that. When fighters act in a way that is morally and socially irresponsible, the fighting organizations rarely discipline the fighters publicly,” Murphy said in a statement. “If I can protect our youth, in any way, from being influenced by men and women who have no consequences for their morally offensive behavior, then I will. This resolution underscores state law right now. We have a responsibility to protect our youth.”