On MMA — The latest from the commission
So the game of phone tag with the Ontario Athletics Commission is over. One of chairman Ken Hayashi's assistants left me a voicemail on Thursday outlining the commission's stance on MMA in light of new legislation in Massachusetts legalizing the sport.
Basically, it's the same as the their stance before the new law in Massachusetts. Same as it's been for as long as anyone can remember.
Nothing has changed, and nobody at the commission is planning any changes.
I know it's not the news most local MMA fans want to hear, and I understand there's a lot of bitterness toward Hayashi in Ontario's mixed martial arts community. He's certainly a convenient target, and since he's the head of the commission that runs combat sports (correction, combat "sport") in this province it's easy to conclude that the only thing standing between Ontario and MMA is his recalcitrant attitude.
Even if Marc Ratner et al can convince Hayashi that octagons are much safer than boxing rings (and they probably are — shorter fights and fewer blows to the head), it wouldn't, as Jason points out, change the number of qualified officials in the province. Nor does it boost the number of commission staffers available to oversee MMA events.
Two summers ago the commission forced Hennessey Sports to cancel a scheduled boxing show at Casino Niagara because the event fell only eight days before Steve Moltior's title defence at Casino Rama.
The short-staffed commission couldn't handle two big events so close together, so one show had to go.
“We’ve never had two major dates scheduled so close together before. We generally have maybe four or five shows a year," Hayashi told thefightnetwork.com in April 2007. "So the commission simply can’t handle all the demands that these two shows will entail.”
If the current annual workload — quarterly shows at Rama plus a handful of other events — stresses the commission to its limit, how would it react to a sudden proliferation of MMA events? Not very well if the summer of 2007 is a useful indicator.
So yes, a sold-out UFC show at the Air Canada Centre would generate a ton of cash for the province. But it might never happen unless some money first goes into expanding the athletic commission's staff.