|12-14-2006, 01:24 AM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Mr Bastard
Posts: 23,698Rep Power: 15292869
For All The UFC and MMA Fans
thought you might be interested in this.
Ultimate fight club
Sport is huge across Canada, but there's no place for it in Ontario, by Morgan Campbell
Dec. 13, 2006. 06:05 AM
After Montreal's Georges St. Pierre won the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title last month, one thing became clear: The UFC's path from freak show to fringe sport to the mainstream will travel through Canada.
In the 13 years since its inception, the UFC has never held an event north of the border. But with TV ratings rising, revenues ballooning and St. Pierre as champion, UFC officials say they'll have a show in Montreal in April.
Is a Toronto show next?
"Hell yes, we'd love to come to Toronto," says Dana White, the president of the UFC, the largest North American organization promoting mixed martial arts (MMA), a sport that combines wrestling, boxing, kickboxing and jiu-jitsu.
"It's a matter of getting up there and getting in front of the (Ontario Athletic Commission) and getting the regulations done. It usually takes a couple of meetings."
But it may take more than a few meetings and some lobbying to bring the UFC to Toronto.
The problem for local fighters and UFC fans is that the sport is illegal in Ontario, and it's not regulated on an amateur or a professional level. A growing number of GTA gyms are training people in MMA, but anyone hosting a tournament here can be prosecuted.
Section 83 of the Criminal Code prohibits unsanctioned prizefights anywhere in Canada, but provinces can decide whether to sanction MMA. So UFC-style events are legal in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Alberta and B.C.
And Ontario Athletics commissioner Ken Hayashi says professional MMA won't happen here until an amateur organization is established.
"We've been pretty clear on what we would require," said Hayashi, who oversees pro boxing and wrestling in Ontario. "Get a good safety record in Ontario. Until they get established as an amateur sport, nothing's going to happen at our end. A lot of promoters think that makes a lot of sense."
It won't be easy.
Before the Ministry of Health Promotion will certify a group as a "provincial sport organization," that group must satisfy several criteria, including:
Enrolling at least 200 members.
Becoming affiliated with the sport's national governing body.
Proving it can implement and enforce safety rules.
Although no one has made a formal application to start an amateur MMA organization, Toronto accountant Marco Antico incorporated the Ontario Mixed Martial Arts Association last year. Within four days of opening registration, 400 athletes and coaches signed up.
"The government believes in one umbrella organization, so it's not like there's competition," Antico says. "None of (the ministry's requirements) is going to be any problem, it just takes time."
Antico plans to apply to the ministry within six months and host his first event within a year.
Even that's too long for Stephane Patry. The president of a Montreal-based promotion company called TKO, Patry has been trying to sway the Ontario Athletics Commission since 2000. He says it's time Ontario followed Quebec's lead, which has allowed MMA since 1998.
"There are a lot of great athletes in Ontario," says Patry, whose roster includes several Ontario fighters. "Those guys should be allowed to fight in front of their hometown crowd."
Jeff Joslin is one of them.
A martial arts instructor from Hamilton, Joslin has won five of his seven pro bouts, and he's the welterweight champion of Apex, another Quebec promotion company. Tonight he's in San Diego, where he'll make his UFC debut which will be carried live on Spike TV.
"As (MMA) continues to grow I hope Ontario will make room for it," Joslin says. "You have other provinces allowing this type of fighting. I don't know what's keeping Ontario behind."
Hayashi says it's safety.
White points out that through 13 years and more than 70 events the UFC hasn't had a death or serious injury, but Hayashi says MMA organizations would need to establish a similar track record of safety here. White says MMA, where fights often end without punches being thrown, is safer than boxing, where head trauma is guaranteed in every fight. Antico has logged the 5,291 MMA fights on a spreadsheet, and says the injuries range from cuts to concussions, but nothing worse.
But Hayashi wonders how to track the long-term health of fighters in a sport that has only existed since 1993.
"MMA hasn't got that kind of history yet," Hayashi says. "How can you firmly state that in 30 years MMA fighters aren't going to have cognitive problems?"
Patry says the Ontario commission has a compelling reason to settle the safety issue and let the UFC come to town.
When the UFC comes to Montreal the Quebec commission will receive 5 per cent of gate and TV revenue. Right now the Ontario commission takes 2 per cent of the live revenue from pro boxing shows.
According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the last five UFC events in Nevada averaged 9,270 fans and more than $2.6 million (U.S.) in live gate revenue.
"I don't think Ontario can close its eyes to that," Patry says. "That's serious money."
Money aside, Hayashi says there has been some movement here, pointing out that two or three promoters have already contacted the ministry of health promotions about setting up an amateur MMA organization.
And seven months ago the UFC hired Marc Ratner, former head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and gave him the task of making sure MMA is regulated everywhere boxing is legal.
Ratner says his top priorities are New York, Michigan, Illinois and Ontario. He met with Hayashi about six weeks ago and plans to invite him to the show in Montreal.
"It's going to take some lobbying," Ratner says. "That's how we got it regulated in California. But we're starting to knock over these states and provinces one by one.
"In the meantime we'll keep growing and there will be demand in those places to have shows."
|Display Modes||Rate This Thread|
|Thread||Thread Starter||Forum||Replies||Last Post|
|Say goodnight UFC||broken||NBR - Not Biking Related||18||08-12-2006 09:45 PM|