Toronto promoters gear up for MMA

JENNY YUEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Toronto mixed-martial arts promoters are celebrating their first victory and their fighters haven't even headed into the ring yet.

Promoters are gearing up, getting their fighters primed for matches, after the provincial government announced it will start accepting applications for professional bouts to be held in Ontario after Jan. 1.

"We're the only promotion in Ontario, so we're excited to do it in our hometown," said Jack Bateman, president of Warrior 1 MMA promotions in Toronto. "I hope it's legalized in the fashion that it's financially viable to smaller shows and not just for the bigger shows."

Fighters who want a licence to fight in these matches will also be able to apply for one from the government after the new year.

"It's going to give the local fighters a chance to fight at home," Bateman said. "One thing people don't realize is when fighters fight away from home, it's very difficult to advance your career because he's going in as the bad guy and outside promoters are always going to bring you in to lose to their guy."

Mark Pavelich, the owner of Edmonton-based Maximum Fighting Championship, said the new laws will allow now allow him to bring matches to Ontario. The promotor already runs shows globally where 75% of its fighters are from Europe and the U.S.

"There are lots of small brands of MMA, but it'll be very hard for them to keep up with us in Ontario," he said.

The impact on Toronto will be huge, Bateman said. "Imagine the biggest show doing business in the biggest market in Canada. As time goes on, we will definitely have an office in Ontario, no question."

When Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) sell its pay-per-views, the largest single location where people purchase them is the GTA.

"This is why the UFC put hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying the Ontario government to get it legalized here," he said. "Now that it's legal, it's only going to get better and better."

UFC Canada director Tom Wright could not be reached for comment, Monday.

Bateman's only concern is the government sets up regulations on legitimate promoters to set up fights and insurance rates will be reasonable.

"I keep my fingers crossed they don't let any Tom, Dick and Harry that wants to put a show on to do so, because that can be bad for the sport," he said.

"As long as they allow upstanding promoters to do their job, I think this is going to be a very good thing."


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