UFC 97 'Redemption,' scheduled to take place from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on April 18 is in jeopardy of being canceled by potential rule changes from the Quebec Athletic Commission (QAC) according to Ontario's Sportsnet.ca.
And as silly as it sounds, we may have James "Colossus" Thompson to blame.
On February 6 at Mel’s Studio in Montreal, Quebec, Titans Fighting held an MMA event that was originally supposed to be called "Strikebox." The upstart promotion wanted to stage an event that featured all striking, prohibiting any grappling or striking on the ground.
Unfortunately Strikebox struck out, as the California-based "Strikeforce" wasn't too keen on the name similarity and forced them to become Titans Fighting.
Secondly, the QAC would not approve of the format because it did not follow the currently sanctioned rules. The deal was have a full-fledged MMA show, or have no show at all.
Titans Fighting continued with their show, but maintain the fighters had a 'Gentleman's agreement" to keep the action standing.
Apparently everyone was told about this agreement except Thompson. Or if he was told, his corpulent ears might have prevented him from hearing it.
In the main event against Steve Bosse, Thompson immediately went for the takedown and rattled off some textbook ground and pound. The crowd reacted violently in disapproval, showering the cage with bottles and debris. The show was halted and both fighters and Referee Yves Lavigne ran for their lives.
In the aftermath of that disastrous event, the QAC is re-evaluating rules that govern the sport of mixed martial arts within the province and are considering changes that include a smaller cage, banning elbow and knee strikes and requiring a referee to stop a bout when a fighter gets knocked down to make sure they are okay to continue.
The QAC further stated that the UFC will be forced to comply with any proposed changes should they desire to stage an event there, which comes as a surprise considering the success of UFC 83 that was held on April 19 of 2008.
Considering the province has been following North America's Unified Rules of MMA for over seven years, this sudden development is a bit puzzling.
I'm sure the over 12,000 fans who already purchased their tickets aren't going to take this lying down, nor will Marc Ratner, the UFC's vice president of government and regulatory affairs.
UFC 97 is supposed to feature middleweight champion Anderson Silva, putting his 185-pound title on the line against number one division contender, Thales Leites. In the co-main event, Mauricio Rua — fresh off his less-than-thrilling victory over Mark "The Hammer" Coleman at UFC 93 — would challenge former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell.
If the QAC decides that new rules are going to be in affect, let's hope for the sake of Canadian fans it can wait until April 19. Otherwise, the UFC may have to consider other options, including relocating the show elsewhere like Las Vegas.