a response from the UFC via www.mmajunkie.com
Heading to the club again tonight...I`ll bring my camera and snap some pictures for everyone to see what Thursday nights are like at Sudbury BJJ.
On to the story...
UFC issues response to Ontario premier's comments
by MMAjunkie.com Staff on Feb 18, 2010 at 9:20 am ET
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is not going down without a fight when it comes to getting MMA regulated in the Canadian province of Ontario.
Amid a pre-fight public-relations blitz for Saturday's UFC 110 event in Sydney, Australia, the promotion on Wednesday evening issued a swift response to recent comments by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty that the idea of legalizing mixed martial arts in province to create jobs and tax revenue is "just not a priority."
"We are working very closely with the various levels of Canadian government, including the Province of Ontario, to ensure the highest levels of safety for all of (MMA) participants," Marc Ratner, vice president of regulatory affairs for the UFC, stated in a prepared statement.
McGuinty's comments came as an apparent setback to the UFC's promise to hold an event in Toronto within the year.
"We respect the fact that the Premier has indicated that MMA regulation is not a top priority; however, we are confident that our efforts in educating Canadian officials, including members of the provincial cabinet, will eventually result in regulation of the sport in Ontario," Ratner stated.
Ratner, a former executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, clears legislative barriers to UFC events in states and territories the promotion has not yet visited and helps local athletic commissions with regulatory standards.
The UFC statement said a recent economic analysis suggested that more than 42 percent of the spectators who attended the Montreal event (UFC 97) in April 2009 came from the province of Ontario with an estimated $5 million of immediate economic impact to the city of Montreal.
McGuinty, however, said the sport's legalization is not a cure-all for Ontario's economic woes.
"We have higher priorities when it comes to developing those jobs and strengthening the economy," McGuinty said. "We have other things on the go right now, and we'll stay focused on those, whether that's our tax reforms, stimulating the economy through investments in infrastructure, getting our children better opportunities at the outset."
In the past, the promotion has named Ontario — the most populous province in Canada with more than 13 million residents — as the "Mecca" of mixed martial arts despite its illegality and estimated an event there could draw as many as 60,000 fans. The province reportedly holds the highest television ratings and per capita pay-per-view buyrates around the world.
Nationwide the sport is barred by section 83 of the Canadian Criminal Code, but many provincial athletic commissions do not enforce the law.
Recently, the UFC helped pave the way for a two-year pilot program to regulate the sport in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. UFC 115 is planned for the 2010 Winter Olympics host city on June 12.
So far, the UFC has held two events in Montreal, and a third event is planned in the city on May 8. Both shows have been quick sellouts.
What steps the promotion now takes to clear the legislative impasse is unclear, though UFC officials have employed at least one lobbyist to represent their interests in Ontario.