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UFC to meet with Quebec officials in an attempt to save UFC 97

A contingent from the UFC is in Quebec to meet today with officials from the government agency that oversees combat sports. This is an attempt on both parts to salvage UFC 97, which is scheduled to take place at the Bell Centre in Montreal April 18.

Dana White said in a statement to the Canadian Press that UFC 97 sold out faster than last year’s UFC 83 event, which featured a main event of Georges St. Pierre vs. Matt Serra for the UFC welterweight title. White sounded confident that things will go on as planned.

The issue at hand is that the unified MMA rules do not mesh with the “mixed boxing” rules that are currently in place in Quebec. Monday brought a sense of optimism when an official from Quebec stated that there is a strong desire on both parts to make things work. He did stress that the UFC may need to agree to some sort of accommodation of the rules.

Rejean Theriault, who is the communications director for the commission, said he would not be able to comment any further until he gave the UFC an opportunity to state their case. Theriault went on to say that the rules have never changed but the enforcement has. It was only brought to their attention that the previous regime had not been enforcing the provincial regulations.

Quebec regulations do not allow the use of elbows or knee strikes. To hit an opponent with a bent knee or bent elbow is considered a foul. Further rules state that once a fighter is knocked down the referee must send his opponent to a neutral corner like they do in boxing. Judo type throws are also forbidden. “Using any other part of the body other than the hands, arsm, feet or legs to knock an make an opponent fall” is illegal.

Also at issue is the dimensions of the octagon. Quebec regulations say that the cage can not be bigger than 24 feet between two facing corners. The Octagon is 30 feet.

None of these issues were ever brought to light when the UFC held UFC 83 last April which was extremely successful. TKO which has since gone out of business also used the unified rules of MMA when holding events in most jurisdictions that sanction the sport.

Theriault said that once it was discovered that the rules were not being applied properly they informed all promoters including the UFC that they had to follow their rules. One main concern of the province is the threat of a lawsuit by a fighter who was injured in afight where the rules were not properly followed.

During the pre-sale for UFC 97, over 13,000 tickets were sold in just five hours. It is believed that the remaining tickets were sold out before going on sale to the public last Saturday. Last year’s show featuring Montreal’s own St. Pierre drew a sell-out crowd of 20,011 which set a record for not only the UFC but for all mixed martial arts shows in North America. UFC 83 was the first event held in Canada by the organization and sold out within one minute.

A major reason that the commission is beginning to enforce its rules is due to the controversy surrounding last Friday’s Strikebox show. That event made an attempt at using a variation of the unified MMA rules which excluded the ground game. Theriault denied that this was the case saying that the problems had started before this event.

The Quebec boxing commission is overseen by the Regie des Alcools, des courses et des jeux, which is a Quebec agency that regulates alcohol, gaming and combat sports.

It is in the best interest of the commission to approve this event as UFC 83 had a live gate of over $5 million not including whatever money is generated in pay-per-view sales. At $44.99, the UFC can expect to make millions more from their PPV audience. They also have to take into account the money brought in by tourists who are in town specifically for this event.

13 COMMENTS
  • Angry Mike says:

    They should show up at the meeting with GSP, who was recently named the sportsman of the year (or something like that) for the entire country. If GSP and the schmoozers can’t charm the bureaucrats into a waiver, then screw ’em. Move the event to Toronto or Hamilton. Offer refunds to the fans who can’t get there, post the telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of the db’s responsible and invite the unhappy locals to express their feelings.

  • starvenger says:

    He was named Canadian sportsperson of the year by Rogers Sportsnet. Noone really gives a crap about Rogers Sportsnet. Now, if he were named same by TSN, different story.

    Also, MMA is not sanctioned in Ontario, but I’d love to see the UFC here once it is.

  • CMT says:

    Note: Must be read with your best Canadian accent

    EH, Let’s not talk too much trash aboat Canada EH. In case the USA economy goes to crap, we will need to place to drink our two fours. EH Canada, quit acting like France. Appreciate what America is doing for ya. EH, have a good day.

  • kidneybeans says:

    I can’t see the UFC ammending there rules at all. It’s either take them as is, or move the event and disappoint a lot of people that have tickets already. Seems to me the UFC is the side with all the leverage here. They may stand to lose some money and a small P.R. hit if they have to move the show, but I think they can afford it more than Quebec can. But what do I know?

  • Angry Mike says:

    starvenger:

    Are there any Canadian provinces that sanction MMA?

  • starvenger says:

    Well, as we know it’s sanctioned in Quebec, but not under unified rules. It’s banned in Vancouver, BC. Apparently BC has city-centric athletic commissions so you could theoretically hold an event outside Vancouver, but (no offense to non-residents of the GVA) I doubt that the UFC wants to hold an event in a smaller city in BC.

    I believe MMA is now regulated in Alberta, but I could be wrong in that regard. Calgary and Edmonton are really the only two places I could see the UFC going there.

    Ontario, as I mentioned, does not sanction MMA.

  • Joker10 says:

    also starvenger, manitoba (although they are feeling some heat about an injured fighter there) and atlantic provinces in addition to alberta.

    i keep hearing ontario this year…..fingers and toes crossed!

  • jj says:

    How about we outlaw strikes all together and only use NERF toys?

  • egad81 says:

    I have been to Canada many many times and although I love it to death… they always seem to mess up a good thing.

    Hopefully they can pass some new rules in the 2 months before the show.
    MONEY TALKS DANA

  • waxwing slain says:

    Word through the UG via someone associated with Ed Soares says Quebec won’t budge and the event will now be in Vegas

  • wardog says:

    Well of course the UFC would pull this show and put it in Vegas. But it seems that the regulators in Montreal are being ridiculous for another reason aside from their rules. It probably has to do with revenue or something. In any case the UFC should just yank the show and state they will never hold a show there again, because this is very unprofessional on behalf of the regulating body and shows that they cannot be trusted. If the UFC accepts any type of negotiated deal beyond the original one it will continue to happen. But heck they could always bring the show to somewhere like I don’t know… NEW JERSEY! OR ANY OTHER NOERTHEASTERN U.S. STATE!

  • Amen to that Wardog. I heard last night that Affliction was considering Atlantic City for their next event in June. If they come we are there!

  • wardog says:

    Oh yes we are brother, yes we are!!!!

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