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Maggie Hendricks

Canadians react to MMA's passage in Ontario

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On Saturday, Canadian MMA fans heard some good news. The sport was legalized in Ontario, with events starting in 2011.

The UFC brass rejoiced. President Dana White Tweeted his thanks to the Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, while VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner Tweeted that, "We're excited."

They have good reason to be excited. Ontario's capital of Toronto is the largest city in Canada, a haven for MMA fans. Shows in Montreal and Vancouver have sold out quickly, and the UFC is eager to try for another sellout at the Rogers Centre, a large arena in Toronto.

White and Ratner aren't alone in their excitement. Sportsnet's Joe Ferraro, an Ontario native who has long covered MMA, was emotional over the prospect of finally getting to see his sport in his hometown.

As I write this article, I am experiencing a heightened sensation that sees my eyesight as blurry and my veins pumping with adrenaline while I smile from ear to ear. I knew this day would come but I never anticipated the emotional rush. Many of my close friends, colleagues, peers and family members are calling this my own personal victory, comparing to having my hand raised in a title fight.

UFC veteran and Canadian Jason MacDonald worries that though MMA in Toronto won't be enough to move the sport forward considering that Vancouver shut the doors to MMA after UFC 115.

That’s great news, but I must say I’m not sure it’s as huge as everybody thought it would be. Toronto’s the biggest city in Canada and it opens the doors to having a UFC event in Toronto, and it’s great to have another MMA event in Canada. But the door appears to have been slammed shut on MMA in Vancouver so as one door is opened, another closes.

Jeff Joslin, a former fighter, is looking beyond Toronto. He wants to bring MMA to his hometown of Hamilton. From thespec.com:

"I have family and friends who have never seen me fight," he said.

"I've never had the chance to be a hometown fighter ... maybe now I can be part of bringing a fight to Hamilton."

Not everyone in Canada is thrilled. A doctors group in British Columbia has called for a ban of the sport, though one writer points out the problems with such a ban. From The Province:

The doctors' concern for the health of the fighters -- presumably their motivation in calling for the ban -- is reasonable. After all, they're doctors.

But their call for a ban is illogical. Many sports kill and maim their participants in much greater numbers than MMA, which has lost just two fighters in its history. Compare that with the hundreds of race-car drivers or football players who have died while competing and the dozens of boxers, skiers, jockeys and soccer and hockey players who've perished. And that's not counting serious injuries. By the BCMA's logic, shouldn't those sports also be banned? MMA fighters, like athletes in other risky sports, accept the risks they are taking.

MMA is already an incredibly popular sport in Canada. Welcome to the fray, Ontario.

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