The UFC hasn’t even officially announced that it’s planning a trip to Calgary for the first time this July, but it appears to be facing resistance already.
The Canadian Medical Association has come out in opposition of the sport of mixed martial arts in response to a recent report that the Las Vegas-based organization is planning an event at the Scotiabank Saddledome on July 21, according to The Calgary Herald.
"It’s the commercialization of violence, it sets a very bad example for children,” CMA president Dr. John Haggie said. “It’s not a sport in my book. It’s two guys out to pummel each other.”
The association has called for an outright ban on MMA and is concerned more about health and safety and the social implications of the world’s largest promotion coming to a new Canadian market.
The Alberta city has hosted sanctioned MMA events before, but the UFC, which has already visited Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver multiple times, has yet to hold a show in the province. World Extreme Cagefighting, its sister organization before merging with the UFC at the end of 2010, did look at hosting an event in Calgary in June 2010 before eventually holding it at Edmonton’s Rexall Place.
The report said no booking has yet been made with the arena on that date, and Calgary’s Combative Sports Commission has not received an application for a licence to hold a show.
The governing bodies for MMA sanctioning exist at the provincial level in many provinces, such as Quebec and Ontario, but in Alberta, each city has its own athletic commission.
UFC fighter Nick Ring, who is from Calgary and still lives and trains there, believes the CMA is misinformed about the sport and that MMA is less dangerous than they think.
“They might see it as barbaric, and they’re trying to say that people shouldn’t participate, but they’re trying to use the injuries as an excuse for it,” Ring told the newspaper. “There’s a lot of sports that are a lot higher on the list for injuries than MMA.”
There have been two recorded deaths in professional MMA competitions — none in the UFC — and in both cases, sanctioning was suspect.
While deaths or serious injuries have been extremely rare in MMA, 70 deaths have occurred in boxing matches between 1998 and 2006, according to BoxRec Boxing Records. The Canadian Medical Association is also calling for boxing to be banned.
These days, major MMA promotions such as the UFC use commissions with high standards for health and safety and will not allow a fighter to take part if there is any concern for his suitability to compete.
Calgary commission chair Shirley Stunzi said such provisions would certainly be in place.
“I work with trauma doctors at ringside. I’m very confident with what those doctors do for us," Stunzi said. “Those people are seeing athletes with concussions from all types of sports and activities and they come to our sport because they believe in our sport.”
She added: “It would be great for the industry, great for the sport, and it would profile the city as well.”
The paper estimated a UFC visit could generate $4 million in revenue for the local economy and attract visitors to Calgary from across Western Canada.
NOTES: The push continues for Edmonton heavyweight Tim (The Thrashing Machine) Hague to be brought back to the UFC to fight on the proposed Calgary card, and the fighter is very much involved. The 28-year-old (@Tim_Hague) posted a plea to UFC president Dana White Monday, tweeting: “I’d love to add to the excitement of UFC Calgary!!! Please @danawhite . I took and won a pro boxing fight to get my hands more crisp!!” …
Another fighter the subject of a Twitter campaign to get him back in the UFC is former heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, who said Monday he’s desperate to show he belongs in the big leagues again.”I’ll fight anybody. I don’t care. And see if I can hang with them,” the 6-foot-8 fighter told The MMA Hour. “If I can’t, I tell you what, it’s going to be a hell of a fight.” Syliva, 36, has won two straight and six of his past seven but his last fight in the Octagon in February 2008 was the first of a three-fight losing streak.