T.O. politicians divided over UFC

BRETT CLARKSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Let the fights go on.

That's the message from councillor and mayoral candidate Giorgio Mammoliti, who wants to see the Ultimate Fighting Championship stage a show in Toronto.

“I don’t see why not,” Mammoliti said. “It would bring tourism to the city.”

Responding to the debate surrounding the UFC and whether Ontario should sanction mixed martial arts in the province, Mammoliti said UFC has evolved from its ’90s-era origins as an anything-goes bloodsport into a regulated athletic competition.

“When you get into that kind of thing, you’re talking stone-age stuff and you may as well just say ‘Fight to the death,’” said Mammoliti, referring to the UFC’s no-holds-barred early years. “But it’s come a long way and I recognize that.”

Mammoliti called on the opponents of mixed martial arts to justify why UFC remains unsanctioned in Ontario while other violence-prone sports are celebrated.

“If they can show that it’s any more dangerous than hockey or football or karate or any of the other contact sports that we have accepted in society, then I would say no to it,” he said. “But I don’t think anybody has done that yet.”

Not everybody at City Hall is on board for bringing UFC to Toronto, including Councillor Doug Holyday.

“At this point, I would be opposed to bringing it here,” Holyday said.

Told that Vancouver city council adopted a motion to allow mixed martial arts in the city on a trial basis for two years, Holyday said Toronto should watch and learn from what happens there. UFC is set to put on its first show in Vancouver in June.

“I have no experience with the matter, but I think if Vancouver is doing a test, let them do the test and we’ll see what happens,” Holyday said

Councillor Rob Ford said he doesn’t get the appeal of UFC. But Ford also cited potential economic benefits and said the city and province should be open to allowing it here — provided it be restricted to adults 18 and over.

Ontario Safety League president Brian Patterson isn’t outright opposed to UFC, but isn’t endorsing it either. He said professional mixed martial arts shouldn’t be allowed in Ontario until the province regulates it.

Those regulations should be inspired by safety concerns and not the sport’s appeal, Patterson said.


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