Just a few days after a bunch of those crazy, socialist Canadian doctors – probably the same lot who tried to kill Brock Lesnar – called for a nationwide ban on MMA, the Ontario government announced on Saturday it will sanction the sport beginning in 2011. Take that, quacks! (OK fine, the two stories are probably unrelated, but still …)
Ontario and its capital city of Toronto opening their doors to MMA is being regarded as kind of a big deal and the news touched off some fairly hilarious quotes among the local politicians north of the border. The Canadian Press is also asserting that the UFC might hold off on Georges St. Pierre’s rematch with Josh Koscheck until the new year so it can stage that “blockbuster bout” at the Air Canada Centre or Rogers Centre. Oh Canada, so adorable with your funny spellings, earnest political discourse and relentless optimism.
"Perhaps the UFC will declare Dalton McGuinty the heavyweight champion of flip-flopping," said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, about the Ontario premier and his Liberal government’s sudden about-face on MMA.
We assume this was regarded as a totally sweet burn in Canadian political circles, the kind of thing that could result in a leather glove across the face and a call for the two to meet with pistols at dawn. Frankly, the very idea of Progressive Conservatives puts our tiny, two-party brains in a tizzy. So, moving on …
Though some Canadian pols gave a bit of lip-service on Saturday to the notion of sanctioning making MMA safer, the bottom line seemed to be this: Ontario, according to the CBC, is almost $20 million in debt and thinks the sport can give it a financial boost. “The government said one MMA (event) could attract up to 30,000 fans and generate up to $6 million in economic activity,” the Canadian Press writes.
Marc Ratner, the UFC’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, said the world’s largest MMA promotion was “thrilled” by the move and said Toronto has been the UFC’s top per-capita market in terms of pay-per-view buys and viewers. UFC co-owner Lorenzo Ferttita has said Canada accounts for 17 percent of his company’s total business, according to the CBC.
Company president Dana White told the Las Vegas Sun last week that St. Pierre vs. Koscheck II was likely headed for the Nevada desert, but added he would’ve taken the show to Toronto “in a heartbeat” if that were an option. The UFC is putting an entire season of “The Ultimate Fighter” behind promoting that bout and if the reality show wraps up in December, it seems unlikely the UFC would hold the fight over for another month just to take it to Canada. Might be worth it, though, just to piss off Koscheck …