Despite the less-than-thrilling card of fights at UFC 97, the crowd in Montreal was loud, raucous and they set a new North American attendance record, with more than 21,000 fans at the Bell Centre. Clearly, MMA has taken a hold of Canada.
Unfortunately, the legislature has not kept pace, as the sport is still unregulated in British Columbia. When presented with the opportunity to legalize and regulate the sport in Vancouver, the city council voted the measure down, saying that the sport should be regulated by the province. Fair enough, as that is no different than what is done in the United States as states are responsible for monitoring MMA.
The problem is that the fights are still happening. Without any regulation, there are not always doctors or other medical personnel around. The referees don't know what they're doing, which leads to scenes like this one:
Hebert, age 20, would go on to win his Chilliwack bout on April 3, taking his record to 1-1, but did so despite obstacles not often seen in the highly paid and regulated world of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. An accidental eye-poke stopped Hebert briefly, but only for the 10 seconds the ref gave him to regain focus. When he clawed his way to the ring ropes, hoping for a break after being brutalized on the ground, the ref instead grabbed his legs and dragged him back to the centre of the ring, where the beating continued.
Granted, not every fight is going to be as well-run as a Strikeforce or UFC show, but this is unacceptable. This is going to get someone killed. Legislators in New York and Massachusetts should take note.