Canadian fight fans may have reason to celebrate this weekend after Showdown Joe Ferraro brings word from up north that mixed martial arts is finally set to be legalized in Ontario, Canada.
The UFC recently hired Tom Wright as the new head of UFC Canada and opened a Toronto office to help increase the promotion's presence in Ontario.
The strategy apparently worked, according to Canadian UFC lawyer Noble Chummar, who shared the good news with our friends at MMACanada.net earlier today:
"Mixed Martial Arts is now regulated in the province of Ontario! Two years ago we have been working around the clock, in meetings with Dana White to get this done. The UFC has been in Ontario 5-10 times which has indicated that Premier Dalton McGuinty is in touch with what the people want. It's a great day for MMA fans and a great day for the UFC!"
Last year UFC President Dana White anticipated a future show in Ontario at some point in 2010, setting his sights on Toronto's Rogers Centre in front of as many as 50,000 fans.
It seemed the only obstacle was Premier Dalton McGuinty, who indicated that MMA regulation was "not a priority." The fans (and financial advisers) have apparently told him otherwise.
From the website for the province's Ministry of Consumer Services (via Sportsnet.ca):
The province would adopt the same rules for professional MMA that are widely used across North America. This announcement paves the way for the first regulated professional MMA event to be held in Ontario in 2011. As MMA has grown in popularity throughout the world, many cities have reaped the economic rewards of hosting events. A major MMA event in Ontario could attract up to 30,000 fans and generate up to $6 million in local economic activity - everything from hotel rooms to restaurants and other stores and services.
Considering that one of the world's most popular fighters is a Canadian named Georges St. Pierre, MMA regulation in Ontario seemed almost like a foregone conclusion.
Could "Rush" defend his title against Josh Koscheck in early 2011 to christen this latest acquisition?
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for more information on this still-developing story.