Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Michael I. Borer

Second Committee Member

David Dickens

Third Committee Member

Robert Futrell

Fourth Committee Member

Gregory Borchard

Number of Pages



Due to the legalization of social taboos including prostitution, gambling, and marijuana, many historical portrayals of Las Vegas have been unfavorable. Furthermore, powerful mediated imagery complete with vivid pictures of encouraged hedonism and celebrated debauchery has added to negative perceptions of this city. Despite negative sentiments, city officials are often unapologetic, and even publicly boastful about the absence of traditional values and communal appeal. However, I argue that many depictions of this city do not tell the full story of what is going on here. I looked beyond surface-level imagery and representations of Las Vegas, to discover a strong sense of community does exist here, albeit I had to look in an unusual place to find it – in the world of prizefighting. In this study, I show how a sense of community is centered around Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) culture. Around 2001, MMA had a niche following in Las Vegas, but has since flourished into a worldwide social phenomenon. During this ethnographic exploration of community within Las Vegas, I use MMA culture as an analytical tool, as a lens, to better understand how people find a sense of meaning in this city, and where they go to do it. One major implication of this study is that we may have to look in seemingly unusual places to better understand where community is created in the city, and how it is sustained.


Culture; Mixed Martial Arts; Place; Scenes; Sports; Urban



File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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