April 23, 2008
Ontario's MMA ban foolish
By MIKE STROBEL -- Sun Media
What are we, wusses?
Ontario's ban on mixed martial arts (MMA) looks wimpier and wimpier every day.
Only Vancouver is in it with us.
Just us and the lotus eaters. Pass the milk and honey.
So Montreal got to host the big Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) shindig last weekend.
The Bell Centre sold out in a flash, no one died and Georges St. Pierre reclaimed his title.
I bet owners of the Rogers Centre took note of the sellout.
If they tried the same at their oft-empty 50,000-seater, they might go to jail.
As it should be, you say? Human cockfighting should be illegal.
They may be savages in Montreal and Calgary and Vegas and Japan, but we do not lust for blood sports in Ontario.
What next? Drawing and quartering at the ACC?
The Leafs are brutal enough.
But wait. Is UFC (the biggest MMA tour outside Japan) really that vile?
Well, yes, if this was 1998.
Early UFC battles were no-holds-barred bloodbaths to make a pitbull blush.
Even U.S. Sen. John McCain, who saw the worst of humanity in Vietnam, said it turned his stomach.
No more, though that pitbull might still cover its eyes.
Check a bout on YouTube, that viewfinder on modern life.
You will wonder: We ban that?
Violent? Well, yeah. So is boxing, football and hockey.
Will someone die if we lift the ban on pro MMA? Sooner or later. Just as people have died in boxing, football and hockey.
Want a perfect safety record? Watch tiddlywinks, if finger injuries don't make you squeamish.
Listen to St. Pierre, or other UFC stars. Articulate as hell.
None of what you often see in boxers. "Day nebba shudda stop dat fight. I haddim ware I wanned him. Hey, where am I?" MMA even claims to be easier on the brain than boxing. Attacks are head-to-toe, so the head doesn't take the full brunt. And the refs move in quick when you're down.
Still doubtful? Pick up The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ultimate Fighting.
It explains the evolution from niche slaughter to mainstream phenom, plus the nuts and bolts of the sport. (A "single plum clinch" is not as painful as it sounds.)
The kinder, gentler UFC now uses light gloves and has more rules than the royal family.
No eye gouging, biting, hair pulling, fish hooking, throat strikes, clawing, pinching, grabbing the clavicle (don't worry, I looked it up, it's the collar bone), stomping a downed opponent, spitting, or holding the other guy's shorts.
You cannot use your fingers "to poke cuts or lacerations or otherwise insert their fingers into any orifice on the opposing fighter."
Man, what's left?
WHALE OF A FIGHT
Well, there's boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, Taekwondo, kickboxing ... and one whale of a fight.
And an army of young men, and a few women, itching for it to be legal in Ontario.
"It's like being an NFL team and never playing at home," says Danny Beauclerc, 28, a fighter/actor. "You're always in hostile territory, the crowd is always with the Quebec or Calgary or American fighter."
We're at Ultimate Martial Arts on Progress Ave. in Scarborough.
That's Danny in the photo sparring with gym owner and trainer Kru Paul Minhas, 37.
Of 1,000 members, half train in MMA, the other half in Muay Thai, and I don't mean pineapple cocktails.
Beauclerc has had four fights, in Australia, one broken orbital bone and a busted nose.
So, what's with all the blood in UFC?
"Visually, it is a violent sport," concedes Beauclerc.
"We get a lot of cuts on the head, which gush blood but are gone in three days with no scar.
"I think that's why people panic."
Owner Minhas is the mildest man you'll meet, though if he wished he could have you picking your teeth off the floor.
Muay Thai, his specialty, was banned in Ontario until 2003.
The province, he says, "just needs to understand MMA better."
"It's a more technical, intelligent sport than people realize.
"These are not thugs."
Hey, if Sean Avery and Habs fans are legal ...