May 20, 2010
UFC coming to Toronto ...... to make a 'major announcement' next week
By DAVE FULLER, QMI Agency
Ontario may have the mixed martial arts community in a headlock for the moment, but with MMA supporters planning a march on Queen's Park on Saturday, and the boys behind the Ultimate Fighting Championship series headed to the Rogers Centre in Toronto next Tuesday for "a major announcement," this fight ain't over.
UFC boss Dana White will not, however, be announcing a fight card for the Rogers Centre.
Douglas Tindal, spokesperson for provincial Consumer Services Minister Sophia Aggelonitis, confirmed Thursday there has been "no change" in government policy regarding the sanctioning of MMA events in Ontario.
Among the rumours of what the UFC might announce: Televising UFC 115 in Vancouver on the Rogers Centre screen; and filming the next season of the wildly popular reality show The Ultimate Fighter in the Toronto area.
Tickets for the first UFC event to be held in Vancouver sold out in 30 minutes.
Three previous shows in Montreal have been equally successful.
Another promoter -- World Extreme Cagefighting -- has an MMA event scheduled for June 20 in Edmonton.
Jerry Chopik of Mississauga, Ont. -- who operates Mixed Martial Arts Expo consumer shows and is behind Saturday's rally at Queen's Park -- says it's only a matter of time before the province buckles.
"It's like Sunday shopping. How goofy was that?" Chopik said. "People were roping off parts of their store to fit in under the 1,000-square-foot rule.
Now Sunday shopping is wide open.
"We all know mixed martial arts is going to be legalized and sanctioned one day soon. So what the hell are we waiting for?" Choprik said virtually every media outlet in the city plans to cover the rally, which he hopes will attract thousands of MMA supporters.
"We're really not trying to beat up the government. That doesn't get you anywhere," Chopik said. "This is more of an educational event." Chopik's MMA Expo road show rolls into Mississauga on June 12-13.
What bugs him is that while it will include bouts in all the major martial arts -- from karate to jiu jitsu to kick boxing -- fights which combine disciplines are not allowed.
"It's like saying you can have a swimming event, a bike race and a running event but you can't have a triathlon," Chopik said. "There is a significant amount of business going on in the province every week involving mixed martial arts, despite it not being sanctioned." Chopik claims mixed martial arts is much safer than boxing, which is legal in Ontario.
"These guys (boxers) might take 700 to 1,000 shots to the head over 10 rounds," he said. "That doesn't happen in mixed martial arts." The Queen's Park rally is 1-3 p.m.