No plans to legalize MMA in Ontario

Jose Rodriguez, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 5:02 PM ET

Legalizing mixed-martial arts in Canada's largest province would take all of five seconds. But with the ministry in charge of Ontario's fight scene happy to snail its way into an inevitability most of the civilized world has embraced — and capitalized on — Ontarians best get used to watching the pay-per-views. “Basically, it's illegal,” said Sarbjit Kaur, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services that oversees Ontation's athletic commissions. “We're not moving to change that right now.” She says all that would be necessary to legalize the sport is to tweak a few words in the existing Athletic Control Act. There would be no lengthy sessions of legislators or public forums or group studies. The minister could make the order tomorrow and the first MMA show could be held the same night. “An ammendment can be made at any time,” says Kaur. She says the minister responsible — Harinder Takhar — has no interest in commenting on MMA. She did admit Ontario Athletic Commissioner Ken Hayashi did attend UFC 97 in Montreal last weekend, but only because he happened to be in town and received an invite. So with the head of the athletic commission taking in a main event and UFC president Dana White stating repeatedly that he'd like to host an event in Toronto in 2010, legalizing MMA must be getting close, right? Well, not really. “There's no active review,” says Kaur. “We're monitoring it and are well aware of its popularity. We're aware of the economic impact.” With little sense of urgency to change, there seems to be a standard response from those in power. “No decision for or against the sport has been made,” says Kaur adding the UFC has not yet made a request to host a show in Toronto. “We're monitoring it and getting appropriate research data to ensure it is safe. Safety is our primary cinsderation.” As Ontario “monitors” a sport that's only seen one chronicled death since its existence, places like Montreal will reap in the tens of millions in economic stimulus brought in by hosting an event. Ontarians will continue to be forced into pay-per-views or costly trips if they want to watch MMA. And the legion of Ontario-based mixed-martial artists — Toronto's Mark Bocek, London's Sam Stout, Mark Hominick and Chris Hordecki — will be forced to ply their trade outside the friendly confines of their home province. So what can fans do? Let the poobahs in charge of the rule-making know that you are interested in bringing Ontario in line with the rest of Canada and most of the civilized world. Call them at 1-866-668-4249 or email them at infosbcs@ontario.ca and tell them you want to see MMA in Ontariol.

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