UFC Vows to keep pushing in Ontario
Not a priority?
Not a problem, says one of the men at the head of the movement to bring the Ultimate Fighting Championship to Ontario.
A day after premier Dalton McGuinty told reporters that the provincial government would focus on bigger issues than making sure adults can legally get paid for swapping punches in four-ounce gloves, the law firm representing the UFC in Canada preferred to glean some hope from McGuinty's statement.
"We're not too concerned by the premier's comments. He simply said that it's not a priority, and it shouldn't be a priority for a province as big as Ontario," said Noble Chummar, a partner at Cassels Brock & Blackwell, and the UFC's Canadian spokesperson. "They're keeping an open mind and we're continuing to meet with Ontario officials...We're not counting our chickens before they hatch. We're being very patient."
The confirmation that the government isn't rushing to legalize mixed martial arts in Ontario is a small detour for the UFC, which hopes to stage an event in Toronto. But Chummar stressed that Ontario is a too big a market for the UFC to ignore for too long, pointing out that 42 percent of ticket buyers from the most recent UFC event in Montreal were in fact from Ontario.
"(UFC president) Dana White has clearly stated that Ontario is one of the largest markets in the world for mixed martial arts," Chummar said.
Chummar further stresses that while the debate about bringing mixed martial arts to Ontario has raged for years, only eight months have passed since his firm first approached the provincial government on the UFC's behalf.
Now, he says, they're lobbying anyone willing to listen -- MPPs, cabinet ministers, Athletic Commission members -- drilling home two points the UFC figures nobody in provincial government can ignore for too long:
That mixed martial arts is safe when properly regulated, and that the UFC would generate a ton of tax revenue.
Like the rest of us, Chummar's not sure when the provincial government will budge on the issue, but with so much money at stake for both sides he's sure the UFC will keep pushing.