UFC 97 (April 18th, Montreal) was supposed to be a triumphant return to the city that gave the UFC its fastest-selling, most well-attended event in history. But even though last year’s UFC 83: Serra vs. St. Pierre 2 was such an overwhelming success, the Quebec Athletic Commission may block the UFC from holding future events there under traditional MMA rules. As Sportnet.ca reports:
Due to circumstances surrounding the fallout from an event held last week in Montreal
, the Quebec Athletic Commission (under the Régie des Alcools, des Courses et des Jeux) is re-evaluating rules that govern the sport of mixed martial arts within the province, according to Sportsnet sources.
To date, the QAC has been following the Unified Rules of MMA in North America. But since laws differ by city, state or province, a commission can insist on its own rules, which could differ drastically.
Changes the commission may implement could affect UFC 97, the Las Vegas-based promotion’s second event in Canada…Sources say these could include a requirement for a much smaller cage than the UFC’s patented Octagon, prohibiting elbow and knee strikes and requiring that the referee halt a bout should a fighter get knocked down from a strike in order to ensure the downed fighter is okay to continue.
Representatives from the commission told Sportsnet.ca the UFC will have to follow the rules set forth by the commission if they wish to hold their show in Montreal. Marc Ratner, the UFC’s vice president of government and regulatory affairs, is fully aware of the new situation and is hopeful that ongoing discussions with the commission will prove that this will not jeopardize the UFC’s return to the province.
Obviously, there’s no way the UFC would agree to such a compromised version of their product, and they’re probably looking for a backup arena somewhere else just to be safe. (Which is a bummer if you’re a Canadian UFC fan, considering 13,000 tickets to the event have already been sold.) But here’s where things go from upsetting to just plain bizarre…
Apparently, the Unified Rules of MMA weren’t allowed in Quebec last year either:
Réjean Thériault, the communications director for the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, which governs alcohol, racing, gambling and combat sports in Quebec, told CorusSports the UFC’s use of elbows and knees to the head do not currently fall in line with the commission’s policies. The commission’s current policies
only apply to boxing, kickboxing and mixed boxing and do not provide regulations on the use of a cage.
Thursday’s revelation was particularly curious considering the UFC held the highest-attended event in company history, "UFC 83: Serra vs. St. Pierre 2," in Montreal nearly one year ago. According to the report, the commission was unaware of the UFC’s 2008 event — attended by more than 21,000 people and generating $5.1 million in ticket sales — until just a few days ago.
Unbelievable. You’d think that at least one person on the board that governs combat sports would have at least a passing awareness of the UFC. Add it to your Google Alerts, guys, it’s not hard. We’ll keep you updated on the situation, but it doesn’t look good. In the meantime, shake your fist at promoter Stephane Patry and hapless fighter James "The Colossus" Thompson, who may have sunk MMA in Quebec for the foreseeable future.