UFC likely to debut in Ontario in 2011 (Updated)

The Ontarian Government has announced that it is “taking steps to allow professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events in the province”. In an official press release the ministry of consumer affairs said that it regulate according to the Unified Rules,with the first professional MMA event to be held in 2011 and expectation that there would be between ten and fifteen held in the province each year. While stressing the need to protect competitors and the development of the sport, a key factor seems to have been the potential economics benefits with the release referencing how a major MMA event could attract up to 30,000 fans and generate $6million in “local economic activity”. The minister for consumer affairs Sophia Aggelonitis, was quoted as saying:

“Our government has been monitoring MMA for some time. We know that the sport has evolved and that Ontarians want to see it here. My goal is to make sure we have the tools to keep the competitors safe, and provide an economic boost to communities that want to host MMA events.”

The UFC has responded, with UFC Canada Director of Operations Tom Wright,  telling The Toronto Star that “Canada is a mecca for mixed martial arts and Ontario is obviously the largest province. It’s very significant for the sport”. He promised that the first UFC event in the province would be ‘big’ but couldn’t go into any further details.

Update: MMA Junkie is reporting that the UFC debut could come as early as March, with reports that the UFC has reserved the 60,000 seater Rogers Centre (formerly known as the SkyDome) for a late-March date.

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