Ont. in no rush for UFC

Thales Leites (right) fights Anderson Silva at UFC 97 in Montreal. (Eric Bolte/QMI Agency)

Thales Leites (right) fights Anderson Silva at UFC 97 in Montreal. (Eric Bolte/QMI Agency)

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM 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 pay-per-views.

"Basically, it's illegal," said Sarbjit Kaur, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Small Business and Consumer Services that oversees Ontario's athletic commissions.

"We're not moving to change that right now."

Kaur said all that's needed to legalize the sport is to tweak a few words in the Athletic Control Act -- no lengthy sessions of legislators or public forums or group studies. The minister could make the order tomorrow and the first MMA show held the same night.

"An amendment can be made at any time," said Kaur.

She added the minister responsible -- Harinder Takhar -- has no interest in commenting on MMA.

Kaur did admit Ontario Athletic Commission chairman Ken Hayashi attended UFC 97 in Montreal, but only because he happened to be in town and received an invite.

So, with the head of the athletic commission taking in a big card and UFC president Dana White repeatedly stating he'd like to host an event in Toronto in 2010, legalization must be near, right?

Well, not really.

"There's no active review," said Kaur. "We're monitoring it and are well aware of its popularity. We're aware of the economic impact."

With little sense of urgency, there seems to be a standard response from government.

'MONITOR' MONEY TRAIL

"No decision for or against the sport has been made," said Kaur, adding the UFC has not made a formal 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 consideration."

As Ontario "monitors" a sport that's only seen one chronicled death, places like Montreal continue to reap in the tens of millions in economic stimulus brought in by hosting an MMA event.

Meanwhile, Ontario MMA fans will continue to be forced into pay-per-views or often-costly trips.

And the legion of Ontario-based mixed-martial artists -- Toronto's Mark Bocek, and London's Sam Stout, Mark Hominick and Chris Horodecki -- will continue to be forced to ply their trade outside the friendly confines of their home province.

So, what can fans do? Let the pooh-bahs in charge of the rule-making know 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 e-mail them at infosbcs@ontario.ca and tell them you want to see MMA in Ontario.

JOSE.RODRIGUEZ@SUNMEDIA.CA


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