by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
The UFC and the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ) – the governmental agency that has authority over combat sports in Quebec – have come to an agreement that will keep UFC 97 in Montreal on April 18, according to a report from Canadian sports news site CorusSports.com.
Although UFC officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment, MMAWeekly.com has independently confirmed with multiple sources that UFC 97 is indeed staying in Montreal.
Though little detail was provided in the Corus Sports report, the UFC will apparently be allowed to operate under the same rules that it did last year in Montreal, including allowing knee and elbow strikes. The promotion reportedly agreed to disallow foot stomps, which was also a condition of the UFC’s first foray into Canada.
UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner, who is in England for this weekend’s UFC 95, was reported as telling U.K. website MMABay.co.uk, “UFC 97 will go ahead on April 18 in Montreal as planned.”
The whole firestorm of controversy surrounding UFC 97 was serious enough to cause the promotion to seek out the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as a back-up plan, according to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports.
The controversy began when the Quebec Athletic Commission – following recent events under its jurisdiction and under new leadership – was considering a reinterpretation of its own rules. It had operated for years under the unified rules, which govern most mixed martial arts events, even though those were not the official rules on the books in Quebec.
Possible rules that the Commission was considering enforcing would have disallowed knee and elbow strikes, possibly required a smaller fighting area, and even forced the referee to stop the action to check on a fighter who was knocked down from a standing position by strikes.
This past weekend, UFC President Dana White appeared on a Montreal radio show insisting that they would try to work things out with the athletic commission, believing that the promotion would have a projected $12 million impact on Montreal.
“I don’t think it’s something that we can’t work out… and get this thing fixed so that we can continuously come to Montreal to hold events,” he told the show’s host. “I can’t see (UFC 97) not coming there.”
While White was busy traveling to Mexico and then London for this weekend’s event, UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta and Ratner went to Montreal on Tuesday to meet with the commission, which is how they were able to iron out the situation.