Vancouver Refuses to Regulate Mixed Martial Arts

If you're an American, this is something akin to putting pressure on the state to govern and be held responsible as opposed to asking the city or municipal government to shoulder the burden. I know far too little about the interplay of Canadian spheres of governance to know which approach is correct:

Vancouver council smacked down an attempt Thursday to open the city to professional mixed martial arts events, saying it still believes the province should regulate the sport rather than leave it to a “patchwork quilt” of rules overseen by municipal athletic commissions.

Council deflected a request by the Vancouver Athletic Commission to sanction MMA events, saying it wants more information about the economic impact on the city.

But other councillors said while they support the sport and believe it is maturing, they don’t want the city to take on a regulatory role.

“Once again we are asking the province to take over this,” said Coun. Heather Deal. “It should be the province and not a patchwork quilt of regulations by cities.”

Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city isn’t closing the door to MMA. “Ultimately we want to put pressure on the province to do this,” he said.

I look to Canadians to weigh in, but let's not rush to condemn the council here. The responsibility to run some sort of athletic commission at the municipal level of government is a tall task and one many cities are simply not equipped to do properly. The idea that athletic commissions pay for themselves in areas with a healthy traffic of fight sport is true, but those are state officials who often have to attend events across the state. It's more manageable as a system when a competent state team is able to enforce the laws evenly across the land. City governments may not necessarily be burdened with cost if asked to do this city by city across the state or province, but the comparative advantage of keeping best practices evenly distributed lies at the state level.

Of course, everything could be different in Canada.

UPDATE: Reader Ozz settles the matter:

Vancouver council has the ability to regulate the sport and make a large profit. They’d just much rather pass bylaws allowing people to put chickens in their backyards and grow onions on the city hall lawn than get involved in an issue that would take actual thought.

I guess every city/state that has regulated MMA has gone through this nightmare, but when you know people who are preparing to leave the city and move elsewhere because they can’t find training partners, and see the number of kids taking up the sport all over town and know that they’ll never achieve their dream unless they had to Montreal or Florida, it really pisses you off.

In most cases like this, you can point to the media and complain that they haven’t done their job and haven’t presented the pro-MMA case (or worse, have actively hurt it), but in this city, all the media is pro-MMA. Nobody is clamoring for it to be banned at all… it’s just the goofballs in council who can’t let themselves approve something they wouldn’t personally take part in.

The door is wide open for one of the other local councils to take the lead on this and encourage MMA ten minutes down the road, but all the big arenas are in Vancouver proper, so the best they could hope for would be regional events, which are hardly the cash cow a UFC show would be.

Can’t tell you how gutted the local MMA community is right now. This is just a horrible evasion of the councils’ responsibility.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bloody Elbow

You must be a member of Bloody Elbow to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bloody Elbow. You should read them.

Join Bloody Elbow

You must be a member of Bloody Elbow to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bloody Elbow. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.