Although the UFC had no issues holding their first event in Montreal, Canada, it seems as though recent changes within the Quebec Athletic Commission are jeopardizing UFC 97. The QAC is looking to eliminate elbow and knee strikes, changes which would compromise the fabric of the sport.
Réjean Thériault, the communications director for the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, which governs combat sports in Quebec, stated that they have always followed unified MMA rules or North America (standard UFC rules), however those were not the rules that should have been in place, they were just assumed.
“We had a tolerance for the application of the rules in the past,” Thériault told Shedog.com. “We learned today that we had a place for tolerance and we didn’t know. Now we know the rules under which to live. We informed all the promoters last week that they must now respect the rules of Quebec.”
The QAC regulates boxing, kickboxing and “mixed boxing,” which is a combination of boxing, kickboxing, wrestling and jiu jitsu. They are requesting to have elbow and knee strikes made illegal, requiring the use of a smaller version of the Octagon, and forcing brief referee stoppages after a fighter is knocked down from a strike in order to check if they are able to continue.
Representatives of the QAC told Sportsnet.ca that, “Marc Ratner, the UFC’s vice president of government and regulatory affairs, is fully aware of the new situation and is hopeful that ongoing discussions with the commission will prove that this will not jeopardize the UFC’s return to the province.”
“I don’t have enough information right now,” Ratner told MMAJunkie. “I just know what I’ve been told, and we’re working on it.”
Ratner stated that he and the UFC are working diligently to ensure the event goes on, and not stray from the standard that the organization is accustomed to.
“I just know peripherally, and we’re getting all the information,” Ratner said. “We’ve got to make it work.”
Ironically, “UFC 83: St-Pierre vs. Serra II,” the organization’s first-ever event in Canada, was held last year and went on without a hitch. More than 21,000 Canadians packed the Bell Centre, the UFC’s highest attendance ever, generating $5.1 million in ticket sales.
Oddly, the QAC is claiming that they were unaware of the UFC 83 event until just a few days ago.
What started this circus was Stephane Patry’s “Strikebox” event on February 6th, which wanted to focus on standup battles, and referees were to stand fighters back up immediately whenever one would go to the ground.
These rules do not coincide with standard MMA guidelines, so the QAC required that the card was conducted under standard MMA rules otherwise they wouldn’t sanction the event.
Strikebox agreed and the event went on, however not smoothly. Reportedly, all of the fighters met and came to a “gentleman’s agreement” that all of the fights were to remain standing, even though it was an “MMA sanctioned event.”
When main-event fighter James Thompson did not adhere to the alleged “agreement,” fans began launching beer cans and other objects at the fighters.