Though Canada consistently welcomes UFC events with open arms (and checkbooks), they still have work to do to be accepted across the country. MMA is regulated in six of the 10 provinces, and is still technically illegal in the country's Criminal Code. To fix that, the UFC's Director of Canadian Operations, Tom Wright, plus Canadian fighters Mark Hominick and Yves Jabouin visited Ottawa on Thursday to meet with legislators.
Wright is happy with the way the efforts have progressed.
"We're finding that we have all parties' support, from both the Senate and the House of Commons, it's a question of now moving through the machinations of government and getting some pretty simple legislation moved forward that will make a change to the Criminal Code to allow the sport to move forward unabated," Wright told Cagewriter.
Though the UFC has been putting on events in Canada since 2008, the outdated Criminal Code doesn't allow for fights. The UFC is seeking an exemption in the Criminal Code that is similar to one that exists for boxing that will allow MMA fights to happen without prosecution. That would open the door for fights to happen in every part of Canada.
"What we're trying to look for is an even playing field for everyone involved. Right now, six out of 10 provinces in Canada are sanctioned, and we're looking to get sanctioning across the board so everyone is getting regulated the same," Hominick said.
For Hominick, who grew up in London, Ont., the trip to Ottawa was a lesson in politics.
"The thing I got an appreciation for today is that change takes time. It takes the right group of people to jump onboard. Everyone has been supportive," Hominick said.
Like Hominick, Wright believes that their lobbying efforts will be rewarded.
"I think it's a matter of months. We've done a lot. We've gotten a lot of traction, and we know where our support is. I'm feeling pretty good about it.