January 30, 2010
White night in T.O.?UFC president confident Ontario's ban on mixed martial arts about to end
By JOSE RODRIGUEZ, QMI Agency
With a May card in Montreal and Vancouver set to host an event a month later, UFC president Dana White says it's only a matter of time before Canada's largest city hosts a UFC card.
Ontario remains one of the few places in North America where mixed martial arts is still outlawed -- making a UFC event in Toronto impossible.
But UFC brass say they are in constant contact with the Ontario Athletic Commission and progress is being made on bringing a major event to Canada's most populous city.
"I think we're very close in Toronto," White told Scrapyard recently.
"I think New York is close to happening. We just got Wisconsin done and Massachusetts got done last summer. Vancouver just opened up and I think it's time (for Ontario). All the walls are falling down."
White says MMA has a proven track record of safety and jurisdictions that still ban the sport are beginning to reconsider.
"We've done a great job over the past 10 years of not only educating everybody, but proving this is a very safe sport," he says.
"These are professional athletes, some of the best-conditioned athletes in the world. Our success and safety rate has been impeccable and this thing is only getting bigger."
White said the May 8 event in Montreal will feature a light-heavyweight title rematch between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida and while no fighters have been announced for the June 12 show in Vancouver, White says fans won't be disappointed with the card.
White can't say enough good things about Canada.
The potty-mouthed boss of the world's biggest fight club says, when he was laying out his master plan, Canada wasn't even in the equation.
"A lot of the things I thought would happen, pretty much happened," White said.
"No-brainers like the U.K., Mexico and the United States. Traditionally big fight centres where boxing has been alive for so many years, even wrestling, etc.
"I never saw Canada coming. There are so many passionate fans and, not only that, a lot of talented people coming out of Canada in MMA."
White says he is always amazed at the throng of red and white flags at every major UFC show.
"No matter what state I'm in, in the U.S., or what country I'm in, there are so many Canadian fans there. It's incredible," says White.
"I'm not being a Canadian kiss ass. I'm not trying to stroke the Canadian fans, but not only are the Canadian fans f---ing awesome, they're the best people. Every time I meet them on the street, they're so cool. They're so passionate about the sport."