Two years ago, Vancouver banned the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. On November 27th 2009, the first official MMA event was held since that ban, and it was considered a success. There were actually two amateur fights, one fight was held at the Edgewater Casino by Honour Combat Championships, and another at Fraserview Hall. Local politicians attended the events. City councillor Kerry Jang had this to say about his experience:
The City issued special events permits for the events, and Councillor Kerry Jang was impressed by what he saw. "In all it was an interesting experience...I actually had more fun than I thought I would." Jang expressed concerns over the safety and health of the fighters - he wanted to see the sport for himself in order to approve it. He says after watching the fight, his concerns were addressed. "For example, I noticed that they had enough protective gear on their hands so there wasn't going to be a lot of bodily injury. I was impressed by how quickly if somebody wanted to give up and they tapped-out, that happened very quickly as well. I was also impressed by the way the referee was watching to make sure nobody got hurt."
UFC veteran Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was in town for the A-Team movie and he also attended one of the fights along with Denis Kang. When asked about how he felt about fighting in Vancouver, he said:
"If I get paid, I'd fight anywhere," Jackson told CTV. "I'd fight on the moon if they paid me."
Even though a UFC event is tentatively booked for GM Place, some politicians still showed a distaste for the sport:
Councillor David Cadman stood by the city's decision on Thursday, maintaining that the combination of jiu jitsu, wrestling and kickboxing should not be considered a sport at all. "Is dog fighting a sport?" Cadman asked. "Is bullfighting a sport? Is cockfighting a sport?"
Cadman worries the violence won't stop when the fight ends. "Clearly a bunch of testosterone-pumped young people coming out of a fight like that and going into the bars is a risk and the police recognize that as a risk," said Cadman.
Despite the success, UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner was quick to note that his company runs things differently. It is clear that MMA still has a ways to go, but there is a clear appetite for the sport in Vancouver. Two previous UFC events in Montreal saw massive success. The kind of revenue an event like that could generate in Vancouver is something politicians cannot afford to miss out on, considering the giant debt coming Vancouver's way after the 2010 Olympics.