Montreal will get its “Redemption.”
UFC 97 will take place as scheduled at the Bell Centre in Montreal
on April 18, after the promoters met with Québécois officials on
Tuesday and hashed out acceptable rules for the event.
Regie des Alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ), the government
agency that oversees combat sports in Quebec, posted a press
release on Wednesday stating that the UFC would receive a license
to hold the event, but gave no details regarding any revised rules,
“During our meeting, the Regie received assurances by the promoter
that the security of the participants will be assured and that the
regulation on the fight sports will be respected at the time of the
event,” read the RACJ release.
Quebec Boxing Commission representative Daniele Gagnon told
Sherdog.com that no further comment would be issued by the
commission or the RACJ on Wednesday.
Rejean Theriault, communications director for the RACJ, announced
last week that the provincial agency would uphold previously
unrecognized regulations for the sport which prohibited elbow and
knee strikes, and asked referees to intervene each time a fighter
was knocked down. The rules were drafted for “mixed boxing” in the
early 1990s, and severely handicap what fans recognize today as
mixed martial arts.
MMA events have been hosted in the province for nearly ten years
under rules comparable to the unified rules of combat, but a recent
change in leadership at the commission led to a re-evaluation of
the system. Theriault said the RACJ was unaware that the
commission’s previous head, Mario LaTraverse, has allowed promoters
to deviate from the Quebec regulations in place.
Officials were hard-pressed to make the decision after a Titans
Fighting (formerly Strikebox) event on Feb. 6 in Montreal ended in
near-riot regarding confusion over the rules.
Richard Renault, who replaced LaTraverse, was among those who
called for a more stringent application of the regulations on the
UFC 97, which pits middleweight champion Anderson
Silva against jiu-jitsu ace Thales
Leites, sold nearly 13,000 tickets in the first few minutes,
said UFC officials last week. The promotion’s previous trip to
Montreal for UFC 83 last April sold 20,011 tickets, a record for
the promotion and the sport in North America.
Lotfi Sariahmed contributed to this report.