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Back in mid-February, the Synergy Merchant Services Blog commented on an issue that has had the province of Ontario buzzing ever since. The sport of mixed martial arts, better known by its initials MMA or sometimes “ultimate fighting”, finally became legal in Ontario. When we first reported about the chances of this multi-million dollar industry getting a pass to be exhibited in Ontario, Premier Dalton McGuinty insisted that the issue was not a priority.
Today, Chris Doucette reports in The Toronto Sun that mixed martial arts will finally be featured in an event in Ontario as early as next year. To many MMA fans, this comes as no surprise as making the sport legal in Ontario was pretty much just a matter of time. Back in late-May, this blog also wrote about how the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) opened an office in Toronto.
Evidently, the writing was on the wall. The world’s largest mixed martial arts organization, the UFC anticipates having one of its largest events in the company’s history in Toronto in 2011. With the success of a number of events taking place in Montreal and Vancouver over the past few years, Ontario was the last major piece of the Canadian puzzle that needed to be put into place for the UFC.
Needless to day, the economic impact that these events have had for the cities in which they have been held was tremendous. Many expect that Ontario will now enjoy the same financial boost that comes with hosting a UFC event in the near future. Apparently, McGuinty has come to acknowledge the benefits that legalizing MMA can have for the provincial economy.
Not to mention, the decision to legalize MMA in Ontario has been met with vast approval from fans of all ages. A near-immediate sellout is predicted upon the announcement of the now-inevitable Toronto-held UFC event scheduled for next year. Doucette reports that Tom Wright, the UFC’s director of Canadian operations, intends to have this event set up very shortly.
Said Wright: “Canada has long been a mecca for MMA and the UFC, and Ontario is the epicentre of that mecca. It’s been a real team effort…We’re absolutely thrilled! The UFC is here to stay, for the benefit of the Canadian economy, aspiring athletes and the fight fans.”
Added UFC president Dana White: “This is a huge moment for the UFC in Canada. Premier Dalton McGuinty, Minister (of Consumer Services) Sophia Aggelonitis and Canadian fight fans, thank you for your support. You helped to make this happen and I can’t wait to bring big fights and the biggest names in the UFC to Ontario.”
Doucette notes that “the UFC is expected to generate upwards of $6 million annually for the local economy.” Generating the type of fan support that some consider “the second most popular in Canada next to hockey”, mixed martial arts is bound to be great for many businesses operating in Ontario.
Restaurants and bars that showcase live UFC events on the big screen have already been cashing in for years. It is widely believed that bringing the sport to the province will only make business bigger.