Here's Toronto Star blogger Morgan Campbell with an interesting point against legalization of MMA in Ontario:
A post from Showdown Joe popped up in my TweetDeck last week, linking to this blog post from local journalist and MMA blogger Barrett Hooper.
If you didn't click the link here's the Reader's Digest version:
If you're upset that MMA events are still illegal in Ontario then your beef is with Ken Hayashi, head of the Ontario Athletic commission and the person best positioned to start the legalization process. He continues to claim section 83 of the Criminal Code, which outlaws unsanctioned prizefights, also outlaws any MMA event, and that only a regime change or extreme attitude adjustment within the athletic commission can give MMA advocates what they're looking for.
In a lot of ways, Hooper's right.
I've been asking the same questions of Hayashi every few months for five years now, and getting the same answers about why MMA isn't legal in Ontario:
* The sport lacks a safety record at the amateur level, but the commission doesn't deal with amateur sports so direct further questions elsewhere.
* The sport violates section 83 of the Criminal Code, but the Ontario commission can't speak to what's happening in Quebec or Alberta, so direct further questions elsewhere.
* No, our stance on the sport hasn't changed in light of (insert development here), so please, direct further questions elsewhere.
Trust me, I'm familiar with the frustration Hooper feels dealing with the Ontario commission on this topic.
But the more I think and talk and write about it, the more my mind returns to the same question:
What if the keeping MMA out of Ontario really is the safest course of action -- for fighters, I mean.
Before we continue... yes, I'm aware of the stats. One hundred eleven UFC shows and counting, no life threatening injuries. And I've followed both sports long enough to know that while you're more likely to break a bone in a mixed martial arts match, it's a much safer sport than boxing, where 12 rounds of head shots can lead to a lifetime of cognitive impairment.
Now, nobody with the power to affect combat sports legislation would ever say this but my gut feeling is that if the UFC were the only mixed martial arts organization going changing the law wouldn't be a problem.
Hayashi makes clear his concerns about safety and the UFC would be able to satisfy them. That organization has the manpower to make sure that qualified referees, judges and doctors would work any show that took place in this province and maintain the safety record they've already established.
Problem is, the UFC isn't the only MMA promotion out there, and if you legalize the sport for Dana White you also legalize it for every small-time local hustler who can string together a three letter acronym and call himself an MMA promoter. These guys wouldn't have access to the judges, referees and doctors the UFC would bring, who do you think would have to provide officials for these smaller shows?
And if you don't think that presents concerns about the level of safety and quality of officiating then you haven't been to a pro boxing show in this province.
This is not to accuse the Athletic Commission of widespread corruption and incompetence, but folks who follow boxing locally know commission officials offer plenty to question.
* Nov. 21, 2009, Undefeated filipino prospect Ciso "Kid Terrible" Morales rides into Casino Rama on Marvin Sonsona's coattails and meets Mexico's Miguel Angel Gonzales Piedras, who batters Morales for eight rounds. Everybody on press row saw the fight as a clear win for Piedras, and even the large Filipino cheering section fell silent after the final bell, awaiting the inevitable blemish on their guy's record.
They didn't need to worry. Two judges scored the fight for Morales and a third had it a draw. Morales escaped with his perfect record intact and the rest of us left the building if Piedras ever had a chance at winning a decision.
* Jan. 16, 2010, Another undefeated prospect, Victor Puiu, meets another rugged Mexican, Ulises Jimenez, and gets the worst of a sloppy eight-round slugfest. Again, the outcome seems clear -- a decision win for Jimenez, who took the fight on short notice and landed the cleaner and more numerous blows. And again the judges render a mysterious decision -- a draw. Puiu remains undefeated.
**I'm not suggesting anything crooked in either case. Just saying the decisions were dreadful.**
Jan. 16, 2010, On the Puiu-Jimenez undercard, amateur standout and two-time provincial champ Denton Daley made his pro debut against a guy named Irving Chestnut. Daley is quick, powerful and learning rapidly after a late start in the sport. Chestnut is old enough to have sparred with James Toney as an amateur (really...he actually did), but managed not to turn pro until facing Daley more than 20 years later.
Pre-fight pictures don't always tell the story, but look at this one and tell me how you think this fight unfolded.
(Photo Courtesy The Boxing Examiner)
No surprises when the opening bell rang. Daley moved, boxed and, most of all, potshotted Chestnut, whiplashing his head and dropping him more times than I can count. At any point after round one referee John Wylie could have stopped the fight, but he allowed Chestut to absorb percussive shots. My notebook from that night is spattered with droplets of Chestnut's blood.
When Chestnut went down in third Wylie should have ended it. He wobbled to his feet and barely beat the count, but his glassy eyes and quivering legs told everyone in the arena the fight was done.
Everyone except Wylie, who, incredibly, sent Chestnut back to centre ring so Daley could do this:
A spectacular knockout, for sure, but the product of poor matchmaking at best, negligent refereeing at worst. It's not a stretch to say Chestnut could have died that night, pushed back into a fight he had shown he couldn't win, wobbling on unsteady legs to face a young, hungry fighter with one-punch power. A dangerous situation, even by the standards of a bloodsport.
So what does that have to do with MMA in Ontario?
I just laid out two bad decisions and a potentially tragic one, all unfolding within two months of each other and all made by athletic commission officials who have experience with boxing.
If commission officials bungle decisions in a sport with which they're familiar, imagine what would happen if you put the same folks in an MMA event. Or imagine charging this same group with recruiting and training the officials who would oversee non-UFC MMA shows in Ontario.
Would you feel confident the the guy who fights best would win the decision?
Could you say for sure that the referee would know when to step in and stop a fight?
Would you entrust your record, your career and your safety to rookie officials straight out of the Ontario commission's training program?
You probably wouldn't, and neither would I.
It frustrates a lot of fans that Ontario won't join every other major jurisdiction and legalize the fastest-growing sport in the world, but poor officiating adds a layer of risk to an already dangerous game. So until Ontario is willing to invest in quality officiating and limit poor decisions in all combat sports the safest course of action -- for now -- is to stay out of the Octagon.
I don't get why in every state in the US where there is an Athletic Commission, (except in the banned states) why they use the boxing commission (apart from the laws/rules that already exist)
Why can't they just create a brand new MMA Commission or WAMMA Commission, that only deal with MMA judges (certifying out of town judges from places where it is legal, Quebec, NJ, random casinos where fights have taken place and judges have a track record)
It is easy to say it won't happen because these are the 'facts'. It would have been interesting if the writer suggested steps that would need to be taken to make it legal.
There are tons of MMA gyms across the province...way more than the amount of boxing gyms.
I liken it to same sex marriages....where it is much easier to explain the reasons on why it can't happen, and no one is willing to actually do the work, change/amend the laws for it to be legal.
You can write into the laws that there has to be approved judges by the MMA Commission, commission gets a cut for every fight. It's not like it can't happen because we don't have judges or matchmakers that have experience....if that is the case, then no province or state would ever have legalized/allowed MMA to ever occur.
The reason it is taking so long is because the commission is broke and doesn't want to be sued.
They could write into the law that judges must have judging MMA experience and have judged at least 10 fights....and matchmakers have to have matchmade other MMA events in at least 5 events. This way it will force Ontario to use experienced out of towners, and eventually they will build the market.
Hell, they can charge a $5,000 or $10,000 fee for anyone holding an MMA event. They don't have to adjust the stupid Athletic Commission (from boxing) which in Ontario is a joke.
New commission and new rules is the way to do it, not amending the useless boxing commission to use their laughable rules/laws.
I foresee the main problem being Ontario is too conservative and until 99 percent of the world has laws allowing MMA, I am not sure if it will ever happen.
Maybe Ontario needs to consider public boycotts to help push for new laws....public Boxing boycotts/or an MMA march or some shit might show the government how many people are actually on board. Figure out how the commission makes most of their money, and cut it off.
Toronto alone could hold 2 UFC events a year and easily sell out (maybe even put one in Hamilton or some shit)
I've read alot about the Ontario athletic commission over the years and in my schooling I've encountered alot of really wacky contradictions within the Canadian Criminal Code, we actually have a pretty extensive study on provocation within sports in a law class I took last semester and there are so many contridictions that they're bound to be misinterpretted and manipulated akin to subjective bias.
Anybody who has insight into Ontario's athletic commission with specific regard to boxing and hockey, will immediately see how freaking illogical the ban on MMA is. Boxing here nearly devolves into a riot more often than not in the big shows and the disparity of skillsets is often scary on the undercards. It's pretty sketchy and isn't what one could consider to be terribly respectable. Things I've heard over the years from friends in the business have given me a pretty scared feeling about the "underbelly" of boxing in Ontario.
Also, look at the proportion of "unsanctioned" bareknuckle fights which occur in hockey in Ontario alone, throughout various leagues is ridiculous and the amount of "unsafe" and "potential trauma" which is completely disregarded is awful when you consider the present double standard with regards to MMA. The message and thoughtprocess here is so epically flawed. Major need for improvement.
__________________ MY MMA RANKINGS
HW Velasquez Cigano Werdum Cormier Bigfoot Barnett Mir Browne
LHW Jones Machida Evans Hendo Davis Goose Teixeira Shogun Mousasi Bader