Dana White and the UFC want to come to Ontario. Specifically, they want to come to the Rogers Centre in Toronto and stage the biggest event in the company's history.
There's only one problem. MMA is kind of illegal in Ontario.
The sport of MMA has been around for well over a decade, but still to this day it is not sanctioned in some states and provinces. Ontario being one of them.
For years, the UFC and other MMA groups have lobbied the Ontario government to sanction the sport so that it could hold events inside the province. Though it has been quite an uphill battle as on numerous occasions, Ontario Athletic Commissioner Ken Hayashi has said that the Ontario Criminal Code ties his hands.
The UFC is now stepping up it's fight to have the Ontario government sanction MMA by hiring some big guns to help with the process.
The company has hired former Ontario premier David Peterson and his Cassels Brock & Blackwell law firm to help pressure the Ontario government to sanction the sport of MMA.
Peterson is somewhat of a heavyweight when it comes to sports and politics. He is a senior partner and chairman at his lawfirm, and he is currently leading the bid to bring the 2015 Pan American Games to Toronto.
A spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Consumer Services told the Canadian Press this week that there was nothing new to report on the MMA front. Though in recent months the provincial government has sounded more open to the sport, saying it was monitoring MMA. Which is a completely different stance given by Ken Hayashi whose stance for years has been that it's illegal and there's not much he can do about it.
The UFC and other MMA organization have held events in other areas of Canada before. The UFC has hosted two events in Montreal (UFC 83 and 97), and just last week at a press conference before UFC 102, Dana White stated that the company was very close to securing an event at GM Place in Vancouver in 2010.
Bringing an event to Toronto, the largest city in Canada, would be quite lucrative for the UFC. The Rogers Centre has a seating capacity of around 50,000. Though when the WWE brought Wrestlemania 18 to the stadium back in 2002, the announced attendance was around 68,000 because they were able to put people on the floor. Not to mention the fact that the UFC wouldn't need to take up space with a giant entrance stage like the WWE does, so that could increase the possible attendance to around the 70,000 mark.
Many times Dana White has called Canada the "mecca of MMA." And if he and other MMA organizations get their wish and are able to bring the booming sport to the biggest province in the "mecca", it is bound to be quite profitable for all involved.
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