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UFC hoping to host event in Ontario in 2009

In a recent interview with The Canadian Press, UFC president Dana White stated that the Ultimate Fighting Championship would be returning to Montreal, Quebec in the spring and has plans of securing a show in Ontario in 2009

White said, “We’re going to attack Toronto and we’re going to get that done. We want to get a fight done in Ontario bad. And we’re going to do a big stadium there too. We’re not talking 10, 15, 20,000, we’re going to do a big stadium in Toronto.”

That big stadium will be the Rogers Centre, formerly known as the Sky Dome. The Rogers Centre was opened on June 3, 1989 and is home to Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays. The facility has a seating capacity of approximately 55,000.

When reports asked White about the Rogers Centre, he smiled and said “Maybe.”

Now there is no doubt that a show in Ontario would do massive ticket sales, especially if UFC welterweight champion Georges “Rush” St. Pierre was the headliner. With that being said, MMA still unsanctioned in Ontario and unless White can work some magic, it doesn’t look to be changing any time soon.

Prior to UFC 83, Ontario Athletics Commissioner Ken Hayashi was provided with an invite by Zuffa to witness Serra vs. St. Pierre II live but he declined the invitation saying, “I think it would be inappropriate to attend an event that we have determined to be illegal.”

Hayashi currently the largest roadblock to MMA is Ontario. MMA isn’t the only combat sport that has had issues with the commissioner. The kickboxing community has had their share of battles and though kickboxing is sanction, fighters are forced to wear standardized boxing gloves, fight in a traditional boxing ring and kicks are allowed but only above the waist.

When asked by SLAM! Sports about allowing kickboxing and not MMA, Hayashi said, “It’s still a stretch absolutely but that’s the limit the government feels comfortable with. (Kick boxers) can’t kick to the legs, they can’t grab, they can’t throw to the ground, can’t choke out, can’t put someone in a submission hold, can’t elbow, can’t knee… there is a difference.”

Mixed martial arts are currently banned because of Section 83.1 of the Criminal Code. Section 83.1 states that everyone who (a) engages as a principal in a prize fight, (b) advises, encourages or promotes a prize fight or (c) is present at a prize fight as a aid, second, surgeon, umpire, backer, or reporter, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

That applies to all of Canada yet provinces such as Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia still host MMA events.

Over the past year, promoters have started hosting shows on Native Reservations throughout Ontario. Fighters such as Gary Goodridge, Dan Severn, and Eduardo Pamplona have been featured on cards hosted on sovereign land.

White feels confident the UFC can get something done saying, “This has been a successful sport now for almost 10 years. We’ve been a successful organization that can come in and put on a world-class sporting event. Why can’t we do it in Ontario? It makes no sense. It’s common sense that this is going to happen.”

It’ll be interesting to see if White and company can talk some sense into Hayashi and the Ontario Athletic Commission.

  • RT says:

    Ont. relies on tourism revenue in a big way, and the low us dollar coupled with a generally shitty economic situation has left Ontario seriously strapped for Cash. If Dana and Co. show up and say they can guarantee millions of dollars in spin off revenue for T.O. every year, there is no way the Govt of Ontario or the city of Toronto would stand in the way of that happening. Hayashi is as good as gone.

  • jj says:

    New York state is in the same boat yet MMA remains unsanctioned there as well. They’re facing a serious budget crisis and the revenue would be very useful.

    However many governments uphold bans and give up taxation on things because politicians don’t want the situation used negatively against them affecting their political reign.

  • RT says:

    In NY its state legislators holding the process up, in Ontario its a single person’s (Hayashi’s) interpretation of a law. Dana wont have to put nearly as much effort in to getting MMA sanctioned in Ontario because if anything having it illegal would impact negatively on the Premier politically, especially when you have Montreal Qc reaping the benefits right next door. Not to mention the potential income they’re missing out on from events going to Montreal, Edmonton, and Calgary where MMA is sanctioned as well as revenue from events already occuring in the province on indian reservations and the like. This nut wont be as tough or expensive to crack.

  • Mark Gellegan says:

    I am so happy to read this Article.

    I hope Dana White subscribes to a Life of integrity.

    He must keep his WORD.

  • Q says:

    Halifax and Winnipeg are cities, not provinces…

  • ttt says:

    holding an event at the Roger’s Centre would be an epic fail unless they have more reasonable prices, finding 50k people to shell out UFC money won’t work in toronto will probably work as well as they thought the bills would up here

  • Dana says:

    I think that it would work in TO, and the only way that it will work at the Rogers center is if they up the production value and give the fans what they want to see, the most stacked card in MMA/UFC history – 3 title fights!!!!!! that would be awesome.
    The only other thing that could get 50,000 people to see the UFC at one time woul be GSP vs Anderson Silva.

  • Stan the Caddy says:

    “That applies to all of Canada yet provinces such as Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, Halifax, Winnipeg, and British Columbia still host MMA events.”

    Halifax and Winterpeg are provinces now? I guess jolly Saint Nick must have worked some amazing action yesterday.

  • Abdullah the Butcher says:

    Ontario? Toronto? You got to be kidding me?

    Torontonians are known for under attending every sporting event that is promoted there except for hockey. Hockey? The lowly leafs. The NBA, MLB, even the exhiition NFL game this fall. THEY DON’T SHOW UP!!!

    If Dana White knew anything about sports sellouts he his radar would have had Edmonton first and foremost on the map. Everything and anything sports related sells out there, and quickly.

    Why do you think Mark Pavelich can continue to have sellouts with his gawd awful MMA shows there? It’s because Edmontonians are suckers for a sports ticket.

    For Pete’s sake even curling sells out there. LOL

    Smart money says that it’s a hard sell in TO. I hope not but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this thing struggle to be sold out. It sure aint gonna be like Montreal where it sold out in a few minutes.

    Abdullah OUT!

  • RT says:

    The thing about the UFC is it wouldnt just be people from T.O. There would be people from Quebec, Michigan, NY. places that have never had a UFC event. The beauty of a stadium show is that there would be some really cheap tickets to be had along with the premium ones I think this show does big numbers off the UFC name brand alone. Let alone if you throw GSP, Chuck or Brock on there.
    On March 17, 2002 at the SkyDome in Toronto, wrestlemania attracted The record-breaking attendance of 68,237 which resulted in gross receipts of approximately $6.1 million CAD ($3.9 million USD). The right event can draw, even in the big smoke.

  • Nick says:

    abdullah, the raptors have averaged 16 – 17, 000 fans perame for several years now and most of those are season ticket holders……me being one of them.
    also, toronto fc (soccer) is perpetually sold out with a few years waiting lost for season tickets… toronto does support things other than leafs.

    ufc would easily sell out the rogers centre……plus the air cananda centre could fit over 20k for a ufc event.

  • This Guy says:

    I am so confused right now, do I live in the province of Manitoba, or the province of Winnipeg? Great now I will be up all night figuring this out, just when I thought I knew my grade one geography you go and change the rules.

  • Lord Faust says:

    I live in Ottawa, and we need to get rid of Hayashi. Obviously he has made up his mind a long time ago; his own personal biases are more important to him than the economic prosperity of the province. If the UFC is smart, they’ll be campaigning to people in Ontario politics, and show them the money that Montreal generated with their event.

    I live in a city teeming with MMA fans; even my damn parents watch the UFC PPVs — and any free fight cards I give them a heads up on. There’s a huge demand. This prizefighting nonsense needs to be dispensed with.

  • brian littlewood says:

    I think IQMMA are getting alot of support those guys have done everything by the book. I think the UFC should be talking to those guys i hear they have plans on building 25 to 30000 stadiun of thier own. Grand River Athletic comission is for real they do full blood work ,dr, nurses ambulance , security , you name it . Gary Good Ridge , Dan Severn, even there own local stars Chuck Monture , Shawn VanEvery have competed and had sucess in the cage.. i have alot of respect for all the athletes who have a chance to compete close to home and have hometown be hind them instead of going out west ,Quebec and competing this gives our local boys a chance to have family ,friendscome cheer for them. i wish Iroquois MMA Championships a lot of sucess. Ken Haysahi better wake up.


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