I'm guessing you read the headline and you're thinking "What? Canada has hosted a ton of MMA cards?". Well believe it or not, MMA is technically illegal at a federal level in Canada right now. Our criminal code prohibits "prize fights", which is defined as "an encounter or fight with fists or hands". That means that even judo and taekwondo aren't technically legal in my country. Obviously the federal government isn't enforcing the criminal code in these matters, and has basically let provinces and municipalities find a way around current law in whatever manner they please. Today, finally, the federal government has seen the light and will change the law so prize fighting is permitted in Canada, mostly because of the popularity of the UFC (via Metro News):
"Honourable Senators, this is big business," Senator Bob Runciman, the Conservative who is sponsoring the bill, told the upper chamber when he introduced the bill April 4.
He noted the top four gates in UFC history were all in Canada, including last year’s event at the Rogers Centre in Toronto that drew a record crowd of 55,000, generating direct economic activity worth $22 million.
Canadians, said Runciman, account for 25 per cent of the UFC’s global commercial closed-circuit television sales.
"These numbers tell the story. Canadians have made their decision on this, and that’s the primary reason I’m introducing this bill."
The UFC has already hosted events in three Canadian provinces and will go to a fourth in July when UFC 149 takes place in Calgary, but this move will help to alleviate the fears of other provinces that have been apprehensive about hosting events due to possible criminal code issues. It also allows the federal government to oversee provincial and municipal commissions, which will lead to more transparency and help with safety issues. After all the roadblocks the UFC has had to deal with when trying to break into markets like Ontario and British Columbia, this is a very good sign for the future of Canadian MMA.