MMA has today broken down another barrier with the news that Ontario are set to legalize the sport. The province has long been seen as one of the last major regions, along with New York, still to accept the sport in North America.
It is now expected that the first mixed martial arts event could be held in Ontario in 2011, with the province adopting the same rules and safety regulations that have been adopted as standard practice elsewhere.
Canada has become established as one of the sports biggest markets, with the UFC in particular having enjoyed considerable success selling out arenas in Montreal and Vancouver and establishing a strong pay-per-view following. Indicating their continued commitment to the region the promotion recently opened up an office in Toronto.
Despite that success Ontario had until now remained stubborn in their refusal to embrace the sport, and earlier this year appeared to put any plans of revisiting the issue on the backburner.
That makes today’s announcement somewhat surprising, but certainly most welcome news for the sport.
“MMA will have fights in Ontario starting in 2011…we’re excited!” UFC Vice President Of Regularity Affairs Marc Ratner, who has been at the forefront of the situation, commented on twitter after hearing the news.
It’s also good news for Ontario with MMA fans set to generate an estimated $6,000,000 in the region as a result of the legalization.
“Our government has been monitoring MMA for some time. We know that the sport has evolved and that Ontarians want to see it here,” Minister Of Consumer Services Sophia Aggelonitis said in a statement released Saturday.
“My goal is to make sure we have the tools to keep the competitors safe, and provide an economic boost to communities that want to host MMA events.”