MMA Welcome, Says Quebec Commission

By Loretta Hunt May 26, 2009
The Quebec Boxing Commission says mixed martial arts is welcome in its province, as long as promoters dot their I’s and cross their T’s.

Rejean Theriault, director of communications for the combat sports division of the Governing Body of Alcohol, Races and Games of Quebec (RACJ), which oversees the commission, told last week that MMA events can and will take place in the province, including the popular destination Montreal, as long as its organizers meet the “minimum safety requirements.”

Zuffa LLC, which met with the RACJ’s new leadership in February after the regulatory body told promoters it would uphold antiquated MMA rules that had been previously ignored, hosted UFC 97 to 21,000-plus spectators in Montreal on April 11 under the more recognized unified rules of combat.

However, two promotions recently cancelled or moved their shows out of the province. Bellator Fighting Championships relocated an event scheduled for May 29 in Montreal to Monroe, La., when it says it was told that it could not use a round, corner-free cage. Another promotion, XMMA, cancelled its May 16 event only nine days out, citing “an administrative conflict” with the RACJ that could not be rectified in time.

Theriault said both promotions pulled the plugs on their own events, that the cancellations were not due to cage restrictions or rule disagreements, and that any MMA promotion could run an event in Quebec under the same set of guidelines used by the UFC in April.

Theriault told that XMMA promoters were made aware at a May 7 meeting with the RACJ that they hadn’t applied for a mandatory annual business permit, as well as an individual permit needed to promote the May 16 event. Theriault said XMMA postponed its event, but will meet again shortly with the RACJ to file the necessary paperwork. XMMA 9 is tentatively scheduled for July 18.

“The reason we moved out of Montreal is the commission would not allow us to use our round cage,” Bellator Fighting Championships CEO Bjorn Rebney told Tuesday.

Rebney, whose promotion is more than midway through three high-stakes elimination tournaments, said he was unwilling to alter the apparatus his fighters competed in to preserve a level playing field throughout the tournament’s duration.

Theriault said the commission communicated with a local boxing promotion, Groupe Yvon Michel, which had been working on Bellator’s behalf. Theriault said that GYM was never instructed that Bellator would not be able to use its circular cage, and that GYM withdrew Bellator’s application with no explanation.

Although Quebec’s current regulations state an MMA cage must be “octagonal” and bare “8 posts of 1.7 m (5.5 ft) high in each [padded] corner,” Theriault told that those requirements are negotiable. Theriault said that any promoter could present an alternate apparatus to the RACJ for review and potential approval.

Neither Bellator nor its affiliate GYM requested such a meeting, according to the Québécois representative.

Theriault said the next MMA event in Quebec is scheduled for May 29.

Lotfi Sariahmed contributed to this report.
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