When the Ontario government ruled in August that it would legislate and regulate pro Mixed Martial Arts events, it toppled the legal barrier between the increasingly popular sport and the country’s most populous province.
But a mountain of paperwork remained.
Three months later, both the UFC and the government say concrete steps have been made toward finalizing the MMA Legislation, and both sides are targeting the spring of 2011 for the UFC’s Toronto debut.
Tom Wright, who runs the UFC’s Canadian operations, has already scouted out the Air Canada Centre and the Rogers Centre hopes to announce an event date by the end of the year.
“I’m very confident that the work is being done properly,” Wright said Thursday. “I’m hopeful we’ll be given the green light to make an announcement in short order.”
Oct. 25 marked the end of a 45-day public consultation period, during which Ontario residents were free voice their suggestions and concerns about the rules governing MMA.
Ministry of Consumer Services spokesperson Christine Lall says the government is now reviewing information collected from the public.
But the Regulations regarding the fights themselves are already in place.
Instead of drawing up its own rules Ontario will adopt MMA’s unified rules, which are already in effect for MMA events in all 44 states and six provinces in which the sport is regulated.
The unified rules allow for a variety of elbow strikes, knee strikes and chokes, but prohibit kicking the head of a downed opponent, a move condoned in certain organizations overseas.
Adopting the rules saves the provincial athletic commission time and effort and ensures the uniformity the UFC strives to provide each time it enters a new jurisdiction.
“You have to have a unified set of rules so that athletes know how to compete, judges know how to judge and referees know how to adjudicate,” he said. “That’s what the unified set of rules (accomplishes).”
But other regulatory issues still need solving, like medical requirements for fighters coming to Ontario and the types of suspensions levied to fighters who suffer knockouts or fail drug tests.
Lall says once legislation is complete anyone interested in promoting or participating in a pro MMA show in Ontario will need to apply to the government for a license.
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