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Charges filed against men accused of promoting illegal child MMA fight in Arizona

The unsanctioned cage-fighting event occurred at a pizza bar in Mesa, AZ this February.

New video released to Arizona’s Family shows illegal mixed martial arts events that two Valley men are accused of hosting, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming. AZ Family / YouTube

According to two Phoenix, AZ area men have been charged in connection with an unsanctioned cage-fighting event that occurred sometime in February at the Maya New York Pizza Bar in Mesa.

The unsanctioned fights were captured on video, which has been published by azfamily and is available below:

The video shows three different fights. One of those fights involves small children. That fight was reportedly labeled as a ‘50lb fight’.

Mustafa Erdem, who owns Maya New York Pizza Bar, told reporters that he didn’t know the fights were illegal. “It was really like, a community event for me,” he said. “It looked very legit to me, and there was a lot of demand by the public, people coming and drinking, so I thought it was fun.”

Erdem added that an off-duty police officer was hired for security and that he thought there was a medical doctor keeping watch. Erdem has not been charged with any crimes in connection to the event.

Alleged event organizers Roland Sarria and Todd Whitmoyer are each facing six class 2 misdemeanors. Each of those offenses carry a maximum fine of $750 and four months in jail.

According to the Maricopa County attorney Sarria and Whitmoyer did not have a license to promote any kind of combat sports. The county is also on record saying there were no medical professionals on hand at the event.

“There was no ambulance, there was no paramedics, there was no doctor, there was no police officers working the event, as well as no trained officials,” said Francisco Meneses, from Arizona Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Commission. “There was somebody in scrubs that we were unable to identify that was operating out of a CVS bag for their medical supplies.”

Combat sports is sanctioned in Arizona by both the Arizona Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Commission and the Arizona Department of Gaming. The Arizona Department of Gaming released the following statement regarding this incident:

Arizona’s requirements for sanctioned events are in place to protect the health and safety of participants and the public, and ensure a fair fight. These requirements include on-site medical and security professionals, match officials (referees, judges, inspectors, timekeepers, etc.), safety gear/equipment, licensed/bonded promoters (who provide health insurance for combatants), and specific combatant health tests/documentation.

ADG takes tips about unsanctioned events involving unarmed combat sports events very seriously. If you have a tip, or just need information, please call 602-364-1721.