Legislation to Accelerate Growth of Ontario MMA

Since the beginning of civilization combat sports is something people devote their hard-earned money and attention towards. Canadian government (specifically in Ontario) is finally starting to realize that. Long due changes to outdated rules and regulations in Kickboxing, MMA and boxing in Ontario will help propel amateur and professional combat sports in Ontario and keep athletes as safe as possible.

Something the government is looking to initiate is a new law, if passed, would create a new position in government as a combat sports commissioner. The government has acknowledged themselves falling behind in regulations surrounding hand wrappings, weigh-ins, and fighter uniforms, and recognize that things need to change to reflect modern competitive standards. Right now, if changes needed to be made to a specific rule, the government would have to start a lengthy legislative process to make even the smallest changes to a rule or regulation. If passed, this new law would appoint a combat sports commissioner along with a council of members to create recommendations to the minister on modern rules for each sport. The government could then update rules regularly in a much less time-consuming manner. Ontario could see changes as soon as Spring of 2020, as once the budget bill is passed, the province can start consulting on new proposed combat sport law and develop sport-specific regulations in early 2020.

With an Ontario federal election approaching in October, I did some research into what parties had anything to say about MMA. Interestingly, the Progressive Conservative government stated they will introduce new legislation that will make Ontario a “destination” for professional and amateur combat sports. The new legislation will allow for a wider variety of events to be held in Ontario, as well as break down the barrier for smaller venues to be able to host events. More amateur and professional events will not only please the residents of Ontario, but also attract revenue from traveling out of towners. For media outlets, promotions, and fighters, this just means more open doors and opportunities for growth.

Rules and regulations in combat sports move at a fast pace in places like Nevada, New York, and California because of the high volume of events held in their large cities. Micheal Tibollo, who is a minister of tourism, culture and sport, in Ontario, has realized its lack of attention to this subject and has set out to change/edit previous rules and update regulations to maximize athlete safety and bring them up to par with international standards. A lawyer named Noble Chummar, who represented the UFC when they were legalizing MMA in Ontario in 2011, said the government's planned move will help level the playing field for all combat sports in the province and allow them to flourish. He says, a ‘Robust and strong regulatory regime’ is what will bring further safety to athletes with professional medical attention during bouts and at weigh-ins. He also commented on impartial refereeing, discussing the fairness and professionalism received by referees. The plans made by the government will also hugely impact the amateur community in Ontario. The bid will help lift restrictions on the types of events that can be held, as well as reduce the liability that fighting promotions and organizers adhere to. Under the previous regime, promotions would sometimes find themselves running illegal events, to avoid overspending on permits that were complex and very costly. This would create a better and safer environment for amateur events, and encourage promotions to stray away from any illegal events. 

A lot has changed since 2011 when MMA was just being legalized in Ontario. It was still looked at as a very new and immature in its growth. It was often misconceived as some events were being held illegally. Now it is a global powerhouse in sporting entertainment, and corporations and governments are looking for ways to benefit for its inevitable profit. For die-hard MMA fans, this is all positive news, changes in the next year will hopefully open doors for fighters, fans and corporations all with the same idea of safe and positive growth for combat sports in Ontario.