Yes, folks, its official. The sport of Mixed Martial Arts is on its way
to full regulation and sanctioning in the province of Ontario.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Minister of Consumer Services
Sophia Aggelonitis made the news offical only a few hours ago, and
word has spread like wildfire over Twitter, Facebook, Email, town
criers, smoke signals, carrier pigeons...
Long referred to by UFC President Dana White as the "Mecca of Mixed
Martial Arts," Ontario has languished under an outdated ban of the
sport and the slow moving processes of cotton-eared politicians.
Dalton McGuinty himself once said that regulating the sport wasn't "a
priority" for his government. It seems a province full of slighted
fight fans have managed to change the premier's mind.
This is a big day for the sport, no question about it.
The last MMA event I covered in Ontario took place on an Indian reserve. It may as
well have taken place in the Wild Wild West. The officiating was
suspect, the judging borderline incompetent at times, and the lack of
solid regulation plainly in evidence.
Luckily, those days are seemingly over.
As has always been the case, the ban on MMA in Ontario only hurt the
fighters. Forced to travel far to find work, or compete in unregulated
events where their health and safety might be at risk. This landmark
reversal by the McGuinty Liberal government finally allows Ontario's
rich crop of elite level fighters and talented up and comers to ply
their trade close to home, in a safe and regulated environment.
This announcement is also important because, to me, it eliminates the
last barrier to a Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva superfight.
Dana White always whimsically talked about putting the fight on in
Toronto, whenever the province legalized Mixed Martial Arts. You know,
that fanciful far away day.
It was White's way of kicking the can down the road.
Now the question can be avoided no longer. GSP vs. The Spider would draw 70,000 people to the Rogers Centre easy, numbers that boxing, pro wrestling or any
combat sport would raise their eyebrows at.
And I feel extremely confident in that 70,000 figure, if not even more. In fact, I could
see a sellout for the event no problem. You put the biggest fight in
MMA history in the biggest fight town, and what do you expect?
Nevermind that whole "GSP is from Canada" thing.
Those kind of numbers are just to big to resist - and Dana knows that.
Expect this match in 2011. Bank on it even. Toronto, you're in for a
The whole province is, really. This news is a win for fighters,
prompters, coaches, local business, the economy, and common sense.
Bravo Dalton McGuinty. Bravo.
By Elton Hobson